Sure, it’s fun to bash teachers.  Everyone knows of a bad one.  But recently I had the chance to write on behalf of a teacher who is nominated for teacher of the year.  My task focus was “Community Involvement”.  I think everyone should know about good teachers.  So here’s my letter about a great teacher.

[Carolyn Gordon – Community Involvement]

To Whom It May Concern:

It is my honor to write about what I know of Carolyn Gordon’s community involvement.  I have worked with Carolyn in one capacity or another for over 15 years in the Bethel School District.

I have found Carolyn to be one of the most compassionately involved teachers I have met.  She has made herself available to the community through her evening reading clubs that benefited both her students and their parents.  She has provided unique opportunities for her families such as evening barbeques, math game nights, science fairs, study sessions and tutoring long after the last bus has pulled away.

Outside of her own school, Carolyn has been an active participant in the PTA’s for her own children at both Bethel Junior High and Bethel Senior High.  Carolyn can be found at many nighttime music performances of her students both past and current.  I have shared a few cold evenings with her around a baseball field or on the sidelines of a muddy football field supporting the children of our district.

Carolyn has served as a March of Dimes: Walk America leader helping her school to have one of the highest turnout rates in the district.  She has shared her talents by assisting at camp counselor training and volunteering for YMCA camps.  Carolyn willingly takes student-teachers under her wing and develops life-long friendships with them.  Many still visit her frequently as her mentoring has no end.  With Carolyn, they seem to be afforded her expertise for life.

It probably goes unnoticed that Carolyn looks for many unique ways to help students connect to our community members.  She has worked with the Pierce County Environmental Education team to help her students better understand sustainability in the community and learn of indigenous rain gardens.  When Carolyn takes her class on a field trip to a Puget Sound beach, she recruits professional divers from the community to meet the class group.  The divers then pull up unique and hard to find sea creatures that no doubt thrill the kids in this once in a lifetime event.

Knowing Carolyn for 15 years, I feel I have a unique position to shed light on how she truly impacts our community far beyond what is recorded on TRI forms and resumes.  I was there when Carolyn tutored a dying child who was no longer able to come to school.  I was there when Carolyn arranged a community-wide garage sale to help cover the child’s medical expenses that had long before run out.  And I stood next to Carolyn at this young boy’s funeral.

It is this kind of community involvement from Carolyn that I am most proud of.  Sure, Carolyn is at every Tech Fair and school open-house.  But, Carolyn can also be found singing at a former student’s wedding, playing in an all-teacher band, or passing out programs at the funeral of another teacher who passed away suddenly.  These events are never recorded on district forms, and this compassion is rarely, if ever, viewed by people who aren’t close to her.   Carolyn is a humble and gracious giver, not one to look for recognition.   But it is exactly these community ties that are both the fabric of who Carolyn is, and the definition of community involvement.

I am eager to answer any further questions you may have.


Kimberly Nichols

6th Grade Teacher

Spanaway Elementary