Kristi Buck, Structured Skills Teacher at Butler Creek Elementary School in Gresham, Oregon
Nominated By: Briana Larson (fellow educator)
There is simply not enough time in the day to say what a wonderful teacher Kristi is for the students in our structured skills class. She devotes countless hours to coming up with new ideas and strategies for the kids and she never fails to recognize the classroom assistants and take into account our thoughts and ideas as well. Kristi is never afraid to bring her ideas into a challenging situation and she always looks for new learning adaptations to give our students the best possible education. She is firm but kind and cares about every detail regarding every student in the class. Kristi is truly a one-of-a kind educator and we are so fortunate to have her leading our classroom.
Congrats, Kristi, from all of us at K103! Get to know Kristi Buck:
What inspired you to become an educator?
When I was a senior in college, I was required to complete a senior capstone in order to graduate. Not really knowing what it was, I signed up to be a camp counselor at Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp. Mt. Hood Kiwanis Camp is a camp that provides week-long overnight recreational activities to kids and adults with disabilities. My experience there was life changing. I knew that I wanted a job that allowed me to work with individuals with disabilities, so I changed my career path and went back to school to become a special education teacher.
What do you like most about teaching?
I get to have a lot of my students for multiple years, so I love that my team and I are able to see the long term growth that our students are able to make. I also love the team that I get to work with. I couldn't do this job without the educational assistants that are in it with me daily.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
Technology. Although I've only been teaching for 7 years, the supports that are now available to my students because of technology are so valuable. I am fortunate that every student in my classroom has access to an iPad. We are able to use iPads for video modeling, communication support, individual schedules, teaching academic skills and reinforcement among so many other things. The advances in technology have changed the way I teach and the way that kids learn.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
I would like parents to know that teachers really value parent involvement. Some of my students are in my class for 6 years before they move on to middle school. This means that I get to build relationships with families for years, and the collaboration between home and school is so important. When we work as a team, the outcomes for our students are far greater.
Share a story about your favorite teacher/educator.
My favorite educator was my high school guidance counselor, Jim Whitehead. Although he wasn't a traditional teacher in the sense that he wasn't in a classroom teaching a subject, he taught me invaluable life lessons and provided endless amounts of encouragement and support.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I have so many good memories from my years teaching so far. One of my favorites has been seeing the progress that a student in my classroom has made over the last two years. A couple of years ago, he was laying under tables a good portiong of the day and was not yet able to attend to whole group instruction. This year, he is eating lunch in the cafeteria with his peers and spending some time in a general education classroom every day. He's gained so many skills over the last few years that has allowed him to be a member of our school community! It is a good reminder that progress looks different for some of our students.