Darilynn Caston – Redoubt Elementary School
2016 BP Teacher of Excellence
“To view the world from the eyes of a child is a beautiful gift. These children inspire me to be a better version of myself every day. I am both honored and grateful to be entrusted in the nurturing of this beginning part of their journey of life’s discoveries.” –Darilynn Caston
Darilynn teaches kindergarten at Redoubt Elementary in Soldotna. She has been a teacher for 17 years, all in Alaska.
Early education–in particular, kindergarten–has been shown to have an enormously positive impact on a student’s performance all the way through high school and in their future careers. That doesn’t just mean higher test scores–it means setting them up for success for the rest of their lives.
Darilynn is the very model of a compassionate, dedicated teacher. A mother of four, she brings maternal devotion to the students in her class. She believes that: “we are not just teachers–we are a lifelong piece of each child’s life.” She is responsible not just for giving kids their earliest foundation of education, or inspiring in them a love of learning, but for their very wellbeing.
Several of her students have serious medical conditions, and their parents were very nervous about sending them to school. But they quickly discovered Darilynn cares for their children as if they were her own. One parent writes: “She teaches children how to deal with life situations alongside her teaching the school work. She has had to deal with all the health issues that have been put in her path, and she does it with a big heart and love for these children. I do not think my child would be where she is today if not for her hard work and dedication to these kids and her job.” Darilynn says knowing that this level of trust has been placed in her to always be vigilant and mindful of a child’s care, is an honor.
Darilynn is a teacher who spends her evenings at home laminating and glittering projects, developing her curriculum, searching for new ways to engage her students in the joy of learning. She goes to her classroom on weekends and redecorates the walls so her kids arrive Monday morning to discover a whole new world waiting for them. Young students gain far more in her classroom than information like counting and how to tell time. She explores big concepts with them: honesty, work ethic, compassion, triumph, loss, perseverance. They are learning at five and six years old how to be good people.
Darilynn’s path to teaching began at Minot State University in North Dakota where she double majored in Special Education and Elementary Education. She taught in Bristol Bay for eight years, working with limited staff, and often finding herself taking on roles beyond teacher, such as school bus driver (which could be via a boat, four-wheeler or snow machine) cook, gym teacher, music teacher or school nurse.
Darilynn believes her job is to convince children that they have the power to be the best version of themselves, and the way to do that is to be the best version of ourselves.
Congratulations, Darilynn Caston, BP Teacher of Excellence.