In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt convinced Congress that there was a need for a special day set aside to honor teachers. However, it still took 27 years for the day to become officially recognized. In 1980, March 7 was designated as Teacher Appreciation Day until it was moved to May in 1984. The National Parent Teacher Association led the movement and initiated that one day just wasn't enough to celebrate teachers, thus the first week of May became Teacher Appreciation Week.
This year we are highlighting some of our amazing teachers while amplifying their voices about their journey at Chief Leschi and what they enjoy about teaching. To all of our teaches, we thank you and we raise our hands to you for all that you for our children and our future!
David Plastrik has been an English Language Arts (ELA) teacher at Chief Leschi for 3 years but has been teaching for 14 years. Plastrik works with students from 9th-12th grade and has become a beloved face in the hallways and his classroom.
"There are so many things I love about this work," Plastrik shares, "but the most important to me is that I have the opportunity to help young people explore the world and their place in it while developing some of the skills that will help them achieve whatever they can imagine."
Felicia Patin started working at CLS in 2018 after receiving her Master's in Teaching English from the University of Washington. Currently, she teaches Language Arts and AVID.
"I love teaching at CLS because I LOVE our students and I learn so much from them every day," Patin says. "I enjoy teaching Language Arts because I believe that through stories we can develop our identities, express our creativity, grow empathy, gain critical perspectives and change the world for the better!"
Samantha Vierra is spending her first year teaching kindergarten at Chief Leschi. She was hired in May 2020 for the 2020-21 school year. "What I love most about teaching is building a relationship with each of my students and being able to celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how big or small," Vierra shares.
To Sophia Loucks, teaching and Chief Leschi hold a very special place in her heart. "When I was a young student at CLS," Loucks shares, "one of my teachers taught me the phrase, 'We will once again open this box of wisdom that has been left in our care,' and as a child that inspired me to carry on cultural knowledge. I love seeing the spark in our students when they choose to carry this awareness too." Sophia teaches culture to our middle school students.
Allison Lundt was hired just before we started the 2020-21 school year as a first-year teacher to teach first-grade. "Every day I come into my classroom, I am learning just as well as my students are," Lundt says. "They teach me new things about the world and who they are as individuals. And I learn how I can better my teaching for them to succeed. Each day I am still learning something [and] that is the beauty of teaching and life."
Ahmad Agyapong started working at Chief Leschi 5 years ago and teaches Health and Fitness. On top of teaching, Ahmad also is the head coach for football and track. Agyapong will graduate in June with his Master's in Teaching from Northwest University. "The thing I love about teaching is the students and having the opportunity to inspire," Agaypong says. "Are you passionate about it? [Then you need to] 'speak it into existence."
Yvette Duenas-Aponte started working at CLS in 2014 but started teaching fourth-grade in 2017. Duenas shares,
"ʔəsḱʷədiidəxʷ čəd, hawadubš čələp.
I am grateful, thank you folks."
Duenas also shares her favorite teaching quote from Sydney J. Harris, "The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."
Danielle Kuchler is a first-year high school biology and physics teacher. "I love teaching because I love seeing students grow," Kuchler says. "Seeing students feel empowered in their thinking and learning is what brings me joy."
In 2018, Makenna Taggart was hired to be a first-grade teacher for two years before moving to her current position as a 3rd-grade teacher.
"There are many aspects I love about teaching. I enjoy getting to know my students and their families and figuring out how to make the classroom and the subjects we are learning, fun and meaningful for each individual student. I love making learning relevant to my student's lives," Taggart shares. "Growing up on a small farm in Indiana gave me an appreciation for plants, animals, and the outdoors. In addition to teaching, another passion of mine is being in nature and learning about the plants, animals, and lands around us. When I am not teaching, I am normally outside, hiking, biking, or gathering different plants for teas and other herbal uses. Getting my students excited about, and interested in, our natural world speaks to my heart. It allows me to share my passion for nature and health with my students."
Heather Peruzzi and Katelyn Conte work together to teach the center-based preschool in our FACE program. Peruzzi was hired in 2019 to be a permanent guest teacher but was selected to become the FACE Preschool Lead Teacher just before the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. "I am so happy I [was selected] as it is the dream job I didn't know I wanted," Peruzzi shares. "I love working at Leschi because the phrase 'you need to develop a relationship before you can teach someone' is actually lived out!"
Conte was hired in 2017 as an elementary para. After about a month of working here, she interviewed for the Puyallup Tribal Preschool program for the para position. In 2018, she transitioned into being the co-teacher within the FACE class. Conte shares her favorite teacher quote, "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery!"
Stephanie Carpenter moved to Washington from Arizona in 2018. In 2019, she was hired as one of our Special Education teachers after teaching general education for 5 years. Currently, she is finishing up her Master's in Special Education. "I love working with all children and have fun finding new ways to meet their needs," Carpenter states. "My students teach me so much and I look forward to growing along with them."
Brittany Kennedy started working at Chief Leschi in 2007 and has taught sixth, fifth, and fourth grades. Currently, she is teaching fifth grade. Kennedy says, "I'm here for the kids. Past, present, and future Kennedy kids."
David Derr has been teaching for 10 years but the 2020-21 school year is his first teaching at CLS. Derr is a part of our new Career and Technical Education program that aligns with tribal enterprises. He teaches Video Production, Graphic Design, and Digital Photography. "What I love about teaching is being a part of the collaborative process between students and adults while having the opportunity to grow along with students," Derr says. "Nothing energizes me more than helping students reach their potential!"