April 17, 2000
Atkinson has taught for 19 years, during which time he has earned numerous and varied admirers. Letters of support for Atkinson's nomination came from fellow teachers, parents, his principal, former students, a former PTA president, the school office manager, and a Northshore School Board member.
In describing his style as a teacher, Atkinson commented, "Lessons seem to be more effective and memorable when I impart drama and humor and involve students. Students are often invited (and sometimes compelled) to help me act out scenes from history, or perform in skits with apt parallels to the topics we are studying. A student might be Watson to my Bell as we try to figure out what to do with the telephone now that we have invented it.
"I might be an overzealous parent trying to plan my increasingly frustrated child's slumber party as a way to show the relationship between Great Britain and the American Colonies. Perhaps I take the part of a content and self-assured slave owner while my students, as abolitionists, rally arguments against me. This method lends creativity, risk, and involvement to learning, and has led to some memorable and funny moments in our classroom.
"In my teaching career, I have always endeavored to build strong links with parents, to be fair and honest in my communication with them, and to acknowledge their feelings and values as we work together to educate their children."
In speaking about him, his supporters say:
"He knows the subject matter extremely well and takes each topic beyond the textbooks, giving the student (and parent) a real feel for what the person or historical event was really like." (A Northshore parent.)
"He has a clever, energetic teaching style. During the teaching of Ferdinand Magellan, Mr. A. taught the entire lesson from a 'cut off head's' point of view. He knelt behind his desk with his head propped up on top and told the story of Magellan's beginning and his many great discoveries to his final days, ending with an unfortunate decapitation. My son will never forget that lesson. Nor will I." (A Northshore Parent.)
"He was an active participant in our meetings and regularly offered input, ideas, and solutions to our challenges. He brings good balance and a wonderful sense of humor to everything he does--a truly valued member of the team." (Former PTA President.)
"Every student in that classroom knew without a doubt that Mr. A. had utmost faith in their ability to learn and achieve. They saw him take great pains with everything he did, and this encouraged them to take equal pain with their own work." (School Board Member.)
"Mr. Atkinson brought out from within me a desire to not just learn, but to seek and desire knowledge. He was my teacher as a fifth grader, but he will be my inspiration for life." (A former student.)
"Tim's style of teaching in his classroom encourages learning from even the most reluctant students. He expects academic excellence. His judgment in trying situations has been a model for other educators." (A fellow teacher.)
"His talents and abilities place him head and shoulders above what we normally expect in a very good educator." (Principal.)
"His creative and unique approach has been instrumental in helping all students be successful." (Office Manager.)
"He reaches out to his students with his kindness and wisdom and acts as a gentle guide to success both academically and personally, so that years later his words linger in their thoughts and make a difference in their actions. We should all be so lucky." (Parent.)
Mr. Atkinson is a former recipient of the KSTW-TV "Class Act" Award and the PTA Golden Acorn Award. As Northshore's Teacher of the year, Mr. Atkinson's name will be submitted to the Puget Sound Educational Service District to compete at the next level for the Washington State Teacher of the Year award.