POULSBO — Anne Beth Whited and Sylvia Cauter have long been recognized as good teachers, whether they are bringing students to different corners of the world or bringing different corners of the world into the classroom.
That excellence was officially recognized last week, as Cauter and Whited were named as recipients of the 2001-2002 Rangvald Kvelstad Teacher of the Year Award.
Cauter is the choir teacher at North Kitsap High School. Whited teaches a second-grade class at Gordon Elementary.
Both teachers were also recognized by their students.
One of Whited’s young students made a computer-printed sign with a little help from her mom, then posted it in Whited’s classroom, stuck between the map of the world and the colorful cutouts of birds that students had made earlier in the year.
Cauter’s students also made her a sign, and among the chairs and piano in the choir room, also gave her a reward more familiar to musicians: a roomful of applause.
“It’s an honor,” said Cauter. “I feel great about it. There are so many wonderful teachers out there.”
Cauter had just returned from a trip to Victoria, where she travelled with 107 choir students for a trio of performances.
Travel is nothing new to Cauter’s students; she loves giving the various choir groups opportunities to travel, whether it’s a destination as close as Bremerton, or a city as far away as San Francisco.
This year, Cauter has travelled with different choirs to Victoria, B.C., San Francisco, Kennewick, and Ellensburg.
She teaches the jazz choir, Northern Lights, the jazz ensemble, the treble choir, and the concert choir, which has about 80 students in it.
The beginning to her career was not as epic, as she began by volunteering in the Oakland, Calif. school district, then began teaching choir.
“Seventeen years later, I’m still teaching,” she said. “But I love it. I love the kids.”
She said the job remains rewarding.
“This is something they’ll be able to remember and do for the rest of their lives,” she said. “Most of them won’t major in music, but they’ll sing in community choirs or church choirs … Music is a life-long enjoyment. And it’s a great job.”
Whited, who has spent her 21 years in teaching in the North Kitsap School District, is as enthused about her job as Cauter is about hers. And she also expressed surprise that she won the award.
“I was surprised. There are so many good teachers,” Whited said.
Whited is teaching second grade this year. Gordon is a “looping” school, which means teachers stay with one class for two years.
“We do a lot of writing,” said Whited, “a lot of integrating writing with art.”
One example is a hardback book that every student creates. Each month, Whited places an example of the student’s work in the book; artwork is included as well.
Whited refuses to take sole credit; parent-volunteers help fuel her class, she said. She has had parents volunteer knowledge about science, Spanish, and Norwegian; every week Whited prepares a school newsletter, and a parent types it.
She also designs her room, down to the art on the walls.
“I like an inviting room, so kids are connected to their environment, Whited said. “It’s their room, too.”
Whited and Cauter will be honored at the May 23 school board meeting.
Other nominees were Ann Almond, Nancy Carter, Claire Dasler, Deb Foreman, Kris French, Jerrine
, Marcie Hedstrom, Patti Laschinki, Kathyl Moncrief, Patricia Moore, Mary Beth Timm, and Gillie Wrigley.
The award was first given in 1988.