Congratulations, Julie Doepken, 2019 Kenai BP Teacher of Excellence
“When I found out I was nominated as a BP Teacher of Excellence, I was rather giddy at the thought that someone noticed what I do and took the time to nominate me. Multiply that by at least 100 to come close to the exhilarated astonishment I felt at being named one of the finalists. I am surrounded by amazing teachers at Seward Elementary and have amazing library colleagues throughout our district. My own teaching has only improved by collaborating with them and learning from them. School librarians and library staff are too often on the chopping block when districts are faced with making cuts, and I hope my receiving this award will shine a light on the important work we do every day in our school libraries to foster a love of reading in our students.” –Julie Doepken
Ms. Doepken is the librarian at William H. Seward Elementary School. She teaches library classes and Title One Reading Intervention to pre-kindergarten through fifth graders. She received her bachelor’s degree from University of Indianapolis in English and Spanish and her master’s in library science from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
As a librarian, Ms. Doepken’s classes do not have a set curriculum. Her lessons vary greatly from year to year, focusing on library, research and digital citizenship skills. However, her main job, as she puts it, is to “spark a love of reading, and then keep fanning the flames.”
Her love for reading and books is contagious. Even though she only sees students once a week, she ignites a passion for books, reading and critical thinking in her students. In addition, most of all, she encourages a trait of curiosity, which will benefits students throughout their entire life.
One of her student’s parents wrote, “I am certain Mrs. Doepken has inspired many children to become lifelong readers. She makes the library the best place to be in the school.”
She reads as many new books as possible so she can “book talk” with her students, conducting mini-conferences during checkout to discuss and express excitement about their reading selections. However, her ultimate goal is to create a place that each student feels welcomed, valued and safe. She says, “each student has incredible potential in myriad ways and I truly feel it is my job as a teacher librarian to foster a love for learning in ways that clearly show I respect and care for each and every child.”
I am very proud of all our finalists for this prestigious award,” said Sean Dusek, superintendent. “They all embody the qualities we want all of our teachers to exhibit, especially in how they ensure a strong, positive relationship with each and every student. Each finalist is very deserving of this recognition and I look forward to their continued excellence and leadership in our district.”
For 24 years, the BP Teachers of Excellence program has honored K-12 teachers from public and private school districts statewide. Since the program’s inception in 1995, BP has recognized more than 750 teachers. Winning teachers receive a $500 gift card and a $500 matching grant to their school. Teachers also receive a trip to Prudhoe Bay to learn about BP’s operations and paid admission for the Alaska Resource Education’s teacher course.
Congratulations, Julie Doepken, BP Teacher of Excellence.