Sarah Brown-Donnell, teacher, Kamiakin Middle School
Kudos to Sarah Brown-Donnell, Lake Washington School District’s “Staff Star” for December 2012
“Middle school students still have that spark that is easy to ignite. Students are very curious about how things work, how to create and be creative. I encourage students to make mistakes, learn from them and then do better next time,” said Sarah Brown-Donnell, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Kamiakin Middle School. Sarah teaches a variety of classes including Foods and Culinary, Sewing, Consumer Life Skills, and ASB Leadership classes.
Sarah has found a way to ignite that spark in her students, by teaching them skills that they need for everyday life while at the same time using and building upon what they have learned in math, science, reading, writing and problem solving.
One project that combines all of these disciplines and that students get excited about is researching recipes they enjoy, either from restaurants or packaged convenience goods, to create recipe “knock-offs.” Students learn to make everything from P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps to Pop-Tarts. This lesson allows students to think about the food that they eat and evaluate what is really in the products they consume. They also realize they can make it themselves and often it tastes much better than what they bought in packages or have prepared for them at restaurants.
Students also learn leadership skills through their Family and Consumer Science classes. In Sarah’s classes, students are required to earn leadership points as a way to not only learn how to lead other students, but to also help the class run smoothly. “Learning leadership skills is incredibly important to be successful in life from high school through college and into their working career,” Sarah said.
Students discover that it is not always easy to be a leader as they sometimes have to direct their peers to change their behaviors – such as to correct the way they are cleaning or measuring items.
Sarah always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. In fact, she grew up playing “school” with her little brother and her dolls. “I used to rummage through my elementary school teacher’s recycle bins to find things that I could teach my little brother,” Sarah recalled.
While attending Central Washington University, Sarah once again found herself wanting to be a teacher. She took a number of classes that were within the Health and Family or Consumer Sciences areas and decided to pursue a career as a teacher in this area. Sarah student taught at Juanita High School in the spring of 2005.
Immediately following graduation, Sarah was hired to teach at Kamiakin, and she has been there ever since. She has since completed her professional certification and her Masters in Curriculum Instruction and Assessment. She is currently in the process of getting an endorsement in Health and Fitness through Seattle Pacific University and will finish up by the end of 2012.