Teacher Appreciation Week: Louisiana Teachers Bring Unique Experiences to the Classroom

When parents choose schools for their children, their decision is ultimately based on the quality of the school and the teachers who interact with children on a daily basis.
These interactions are the basis of the first relationships a young person will have outside of the home. Between pre-school and high school graduation, children will spend nearly one-third of their lives with teachers.
During the observance of Teacher Appreciation Week, we look at three Louisiana teachers who, during the past year, have gone beyond the lesson plan to impact the lives of their students – a kindergarten teacher who brings plants and animals into the classroom, a rapping high school teacher, and a teacher whose famous grandmother helped propel America into outer space.
Karen Parrino
North Live Oak Elementary | Watson, LA

Karen Parrino has taught Kindergarten for 20 years and enjoys bringing agriculture into her classroom. Thanks to a hands-on approach, her students have planted and harvested food, incubated eggs and watched chicks hatch.
“One of my goals is to blend science and agriculture into the general learning experience. I want my students to become excited about the environment around them,” Parrino told The Advocate.
Parrino’s students have interacted with a guinea pig, hamsters, a hedgehog, turtles, a tortoise and three aquariums. “The hedgehog is their favorite. This is a unique and different kind of little animal,” she said.
Kristin Chavis
Green Oaks High School | Shreveport, LA

She’s called Shreveport’s rapping teacher. Kristin Chavis teaches 9th-grade biology at Green Oaks High School. After being assigned to teach a new group of students in the middle of the school year, she needed a way to cover a year’s worth of biology in three months.
So, Chavis turned to beats and verses, writing out a rap of the entire lesson plan.
“Before the songs, I would probably have that one student that would go ahead and answer those questions. Every teacher has that one person that’s just going to answer. But after the song, I have at least 95 percent of the kids screaming the answer out at me,” Chavis discussed in a KSLA-TV interview.
“When you don’t like something, it’s boring and you don’t pay much attention to it, but a teacher like Ms. Chavis makes it fun, it makes it easier to learn.” said Tony Johns, one of Chavis’ students.
Katherine Michele Sanders
St. Peter Claver Catholic School | New Orleans

Katherine Michele Sanders teaches Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at St. Peter Claver Catholic School in New Orleans. She is passing on a legacy of advancing mathematics and science.
This is a family legacy. Sanders’ grandmother Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician whose contributions sent astronauts into orbit and to the moon in the 1960’s, is portrayed in the film “Hidden Figures.”
“I didn’t know myself how huge of an impact she made. She’s always been a humble person,” Sanders told WWL-TV. “To see the actual impact in John Glenn, how he felt about what she contributed, that’s really what hit me.”
Sanders hopes “Hidden Figures” will introduce future generations to limitless possibilities.
“To look at it and know that whatever they dream of, it can come true,” Sanders said.

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