In journalism, the common mantra is to “show, not tell.” And that’s exactly how Mary “Katie” Graupman teaches her English and journalism classes at Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake, Idaho. She takes a schematic approach to the task, which has greatly increased her students’ ability to synthesize a wide range of complex subjects.
Armed with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, Graupman has been closely involved in Timberlake’s curriculum development, as well as the adoption of the Common Core. For instance, she introduced Middle Eastern literature into the classroom by having the students read The Kite Runner. Additionally, last year, she led a curriculum summit featuring more than 80 instructors. Another example of her forward-thinking, hands-on teaching is the video Graupman and her students made to support an innovation grant award. First, her students performed a Shakespeare play in the traditional Old English manner; then they translated it into today’s modern language and performed the play again. In this way, the students reinforced their writing, language and English proficiency skills by being able to complete a project in their own style.
From the consistent improvements in state assessment tests, it’s clear that Graupman’s methods generate results. The 2013 Reading ISATS for Idaho show that 98 percent of her students are proficient in reading, up from 90 percent in 2012. In 2013, student writing assessments increased from 76 percent to 92 percent. The school has been ranked as a four-star school for two years in a row, which means that students are 95 percent proficient on the ISATS. Timberlake High School is also recognized by US News & World Report as one of the best high schools in the country—an achievement that Graupman’s teaching excellence helped make possible.
Graupman also oversees budding journalists on the school’s newspaper, Tiger Tales. Under her guidance, the publication has won both the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and American School Press Association Awards. Such is her dedication to the paper that she steps out in the community along with her students to solicit advertising from local businesses.
At Timberlake High School, each instructor is required to create a set of power standards for their student achievement goals. Graupman sets the bar high to ensure that her students master the knowledge needed to walk across the graduation stage and into the next phase of their academic careers. She also provides a clear sense of direction so that students always know what they must do to hit the mark and achieve their goals. It’s her gift in knowing how to read each young person’s unique personality and learning style, and then taking the opportunity to help a student author his or her own story that makes her a remarkable educator.
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