May 3, 1999
Ann Swain's sixth-graders gathered below the school district's reader board proclaiming her as Northshore Teacher of the Year.
by Deborah Stone, features writer
Ann Swain (pictured at left), sixth grade teacher at Sunrise Elementary School, has been named Northshore's Teacher of the Year. A veteran teacher with twenty-eight years in the field, Swain has taught every grade from kindergarten through senior high school. She has been a sixth grade teacher in the Northshore School District since 1994, at both Woodin and Sunrise elementary schools, and has served as an inspiration and a mentor to many of the district's teachers.
Her areas of special expertise are math, science and technology, and she has conducted various inservice and graduate courses for teachers in these areas. Swain's background includes an impressive list of awards and experiences ranging from the development of curriculum for NASA's Athena Project, teaching in Japan as part of the Washington State Exchange Program, and coordinating the AT&T Virtual Classroom Project.
According to Paul Bodnar, Sunrise principal, Swain is a valued teacher who has a deep commitment to her students.
"Ann uses sound principles of instruction to meet the diverse needs of her students," Bodnar said. "Her lessons reflect a high commitment to curriculum integration, active participation, cooperative learning, attention to learning styles, hands-on experiences, effective modeling, and use of the scientific method in observation and predicting. She is a remarkable teacher who has created a child-centered classroom. Her students have the utmost respect for her, due largely to her commitment to each of them. I can truthfully say that Ann Swain ranks in the top one percent of all the educators with whom I've ever worked during the past 20 years."
Swain has a passion for her profession, which comes from the joy she receives from working with her students.
"I love helping them become successful as lifelong learners, and it's so rewarding to watch them grow in their ability to take responsibility for their own learning," Swain said.
She feels that it is important as a teacher to show children that there's more to life than academics. Her classroom is a community that stresses the values of honesty, respect, integrity, and caring for others. Years later, many of Swain's past students write to her telling of their activities and accomplishments. "It's so special to receive news from someone I've made an impact on years ago," she said.
Swain's classes are always involved in a multitude of meaningful projects. During her first year at Woodin, her class of sixth graders built a student store, completing the entire process by themselves.
"The students had no store before this and really wanted a place to buy some things like school spirit accessories, pencils, etc., so we made it a yearlong project," Swain explained. "We designed the store, went over the plans with architects, learned about building a structure, contacted building inspectors, and did the actual construction ourselves. It's a cedar-sided building in the courtyard with good storage and it has a recycling center, too. It was a terrific accomplishment for the kids."
Swain's subsequent classes continued to operate the store, doing all the ordering, accounting, and selling of the supplies.
Being selected as Teacher of the Year in Northshore is a wonderful honor for Swain. "I came to Northshore five years ago because the teachers are so good in this district, and the quality of education is so high," she said. "There's also great support for teachers in the community, which is so important. To be chosen Teacher of the Year is a true honor."