A teacher from the Bering Strait School District is among more than 30 Alaskan educators honored this year as a 2015 BP Teacher of Excellence. The annual program recognizes teachers throughout Alaska for their dedication to teaching and inspiring students. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the BP Teachers of Excellence program received nearly 1,200 nominations in 2015.
Robin Child itinerantly teaches K-12 Art Integration across the district and has been teaching for three years. Her supervisor recognized her for having the ability to connect with learners and stimulate students in ways that are expressive and reflective. The essentials in her classrooms are respect, creativity, problem solving and collaboration, focusing on integrating visual, performing and musical arts into the everyday learning of classrooms across the district. She makes connections between core content areas of reading, writing, social studies, math and science with hands-on artful experiences. She strives to connect learning to the rich, cultural knowledge and subsistence tradition that is a large part of the lives of her students, including nature and the community as much as possible.
For example, during a unit on Scientific illustration of local plants, an Elder visited to share her knowledge of plants and berries, describing traditional preparation and storage methods, common medicinal uses and stories of being a young girl collecting plants with her mother. Another time, students created an animated film of the experience of ice fishing for tomcod on the river outside of their school. By encouraging creative freedom through hands-on practice, she inspires students to find learning in everyday experiences, curiosity for the natural world, and a sense of connectedness to community and place.
She serves on the Alaska Arts Education Task Force to re-envision and re-write the State Art Standards and as a panelist for the Alaska State Council on the Arts for the Artist in Schools - Teaching Artist Roster review. She hosts community art and music gatherings as a way to introduce herself to the families of her students and to the artists in the communities she visits.
“Recognizing outstanding Alaska educators is among the most rewarding and important aspects of BP’s investment in Alaska,” said BP Alaska Regional President Janet Weiss. “The oil and gas industry contributes to nearly half of Alaska’s education funding, so it is an honor to say thank you to those ensuring Alaska’s young people are receiving a quality education.”
Each BP Teacher of Excellence receives a $500 gift card and an award certificate. In addition, the teacher’s school receives a matching $500.