Wednesday, May 25, 2022

KSL Teacher Feature–Karen Thomas, Westside Elementary

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Westside Elementary was surprised when a KSL reporter, Alex Kirry, and manager of Zion’s Bank, Ed Christianson, awarded Karen Thomas with the KSL Teacher Feature Award in May 2016.

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Mrs. Thomas receives season tickets to Hale Centre Theatre, an overnight stay at the Anniversary Inn, and a certificate for dinner at The Roof Restaurant. Additionally, the teachers that receive this award can choose to enter the KSL Teacher Feature Car Contest where they can become eligible for the chance to win a two-year lease on a new 2016 vehicle, provided by Burt Brothers Tires and Service.

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Ms. Thomas’ nomination letter written by Kim Lowe, psychologist, stated in part:

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“Ms. Thomas is one of those teachers that truly changes the lives of her students. She puts in the time necessary to be prepared, stay in close contact with parents, and really be there for her students. I’m quickly discovering how much work goes on behind-the-scenes and outside of contract hours to be a remarkable teacher. Ms. Thomas willingly puts in this extra effort and deserves to be recognized for all that she does to teach and enrich the lives of her students.

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“Ms. Karen Thomas is a third grade teacher at Westside Elementary and has already accomplished many things in her 14 years as an educator. She is constantly seeking to improve herself and has pursued opportunities to further her education by receiving a master’s degree and additional endorsements. She is the go-to person for all things technology at Westside, frequently promoting ways for teachers to effectively incorporate technology in the classroom such as using Google classrooms.

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“As a school psychologist, I have the opportunity of observing many classrooms. I was immediately struck by Ms. Thomas’s teaching during my first observation of her classroom. Having recently completed a graduate program in education, I’ve taken many classes on learning theory and behavior management. What impressed me about my observation of Ms. Thomas’s classroom is that she seamlessly utilized so many of the strategies I had learned about. She clearly understands what makes teachers effective and she takes the time to implement those strategies, even if it means more work for her. She has routines that her students are well-versed in, her expectations are clear, and her positive feedback to students is free-flowing. Ms. Thomas often walks around the room, managing frequent individual contact with students while maintaining a whole-class structure. She tells stories to help students make connections and access previous knowledge as well as finds ways to make lessons interactive and meaningful for students.

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“But beyond all of Ms. Thomas’s many qualifications, what stands out the most is her individualized approach with students. Even though Ms. Thomas has 35 students in her classroom, it’s not uncommon for her to take the time to talk one-on-one with students to address behavioral and emotional concerns.

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“Multiple parents talk about how grateful they are for Ms. Thomas because she goes above and beyond for their children. I work to advocate for students on a daily basis, but what I’m quickly learning is that teachers are the ones who, day-in and day-out, really make the difference in the lives of their students. Ms. Thomas is one of those teachers who is truly shaping the lives of her students academically, behaviorally, emotionally, and socially.”
Chris Baird
Chris Bairdhttp://www.servedaily.com
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.
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