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Meet Keira Andresen – Dublin Unified School District’s 2013 Teacher of the Year

October 1, 2013
Teacher Keira Andresen

Teacher Keira Andresen

In late April, OneDublin.org highlighted some truly inspiring moments at Dublin Elementary School during Autism Awareness Month. The Language and Social Skills (LASS) program seized this opportunity to provide a common learning platform for all of the students at Dublin Elementary. LASS teachers Keira Andresen and Jeanne Kane, aides and volunteers went on to conduct a two-day event that transformed their classroom into a sensory room. By establishing multiple stations, they provided Dublin students the opportunity to understand the challenges of their fellow students that are diagnosed with autism or other disorders across the spectrum. Examples of these stations included: attempting to write one’s name while wearing a ski glove, trying to assemble a Mr. Potato Head toy while a strobe light was flashing in the vicinity or pulling a sock onto their arm that had a “prickly” feeling. Some of these sensations and many others are common to those with Asperger syndrome or pervasive development disorder.

We thought that it was a fascinating and very powerful learning moment for all of the Kindergarten through 5th grade students at this site. However, this story did not end there. Less than 24 hours after publication of this article, the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) published their list of awardees for “Teacher of the Year” for each respective city. For Dublin, the honoree was Keira Andresen. A formal awards ceremony will occur on Thursday, October 3rd at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts. In order to cement this honor, the ACOE wanted to conduct a classroom visit at Dublin Elementary and to express personal congratulations to Ms. Andresen. This occurred on Monday and we were delighted to be present.

As the classroom was active, this was not a formal presentation. Rather, it was a collection of interested people that included Superintendent Stephen Hanke, Board of Trustee members and various DUSD staff. A brief interruption in the class plan included the introduction of Karen Monroe and Yvonne Cerrato. Ms. Monroe is the Associate Superintendent, Educational Administration for the ACOE. Ms. Cerrato is an ACOE Trustee for Area 7 which represents the Tri-Valley region. Both offered a congratulatory statement and they also expressed gratitude to Ms. Andresen for all of the hard work invested by her and her colleagues to the success of the LASS program. It was a memorable in-class moment and one that could also be shared by the students. While a “Teacher of the Year” award carries a certain prestige, it also comes with an even higher level of responsibility. We reached out to Keira to receive her feedback on this award and the process.

Keira Leading a Class

Keira Leading a Class

OneDublin.org: With the passage of some time since your initial notification, we are sure that you’ve had the opportunity to reflect upon what this recognition means to you. Please share some of your thoughts.

Keira Andresen: “It still amazes me that I have been thought of so highly to deserve this award. I know that Dublin has so many wonderful teachers that it means even more that they thought of me. To be very candid, being recognized cements my thinking that if you truly love what you do, work hard, and never give up, then success (whether small or big) will come.”

OneDublin.org: We understand that many of your colleagues will be attending Thursday’s ceremony. How does this reflect on the quality of your fellow staff members/leadership and the relationships that you’ve developed?

Andresen: “It truly warms my heart that so many co-workers are attending. I am so thankful for each and every day that I get to spend with these women and change the lives of our students. I learn from them every day and am truly lucky to be with them. We really are a family, we share the up and downs, and we are there for each other. Dublin Elementary and DUSD truly is the best district to work for!”

OneDublin.org: In some industries, a very significant award may be granted at the end of one’s career. However, you have the opportunity to serve for many more years in the classroom. What goals or pledges have you made to yourself in order to become the best educator that you can be?

Andresen: “With the struggles that I went through in school, I pledged to never give up. In this, I take on the mission to learn from everything and everyone that I can (including family, co-workers, and my students/their families). Also, knowing how easy it is to get turned off from school because of struggles one may go through, I have pledged and will continue to make sure my students know how important, special, loved, smart, and valuable they are.”

Before our departure, we extended an opportunity to Principal Lauren McGovern for her to express her thoughts on the significance of this honor.

OneDublin.org: An individual award is oftentimes also a reflection of a team (LASS) or an entity, like Dublin Elementary School. What are your observations?

Principal McGovern

Principal McGovern

Lauren McGovern: “Our LASS team is a cohesive and collaborative unit of extremely talented and purposeful instructors. Their focus is on the students. They are strong communicators, wonderful motivators, and committed to the task of providing their students the best possible resources and instructional practices. Their energy, enthusiasm, and joy in the classroom are evident.”

OneDublin.org: Having the Dublin Teacher of the Year coming out of your school site is somewhat remarkable, particularly since there are over 400 certificated staff members in DUSD. Did this recognition represent anything visceral for your site? If yes, how?

McGovern: “Our team is extremely proud of Ms. Andresen and her accomplishments. It is exciting to see “one of our own” recognized for the dedication and heart that our staff brings to school each day. Ms. Andresen is a wonderful example of talent, knowledge, and effort coming together. We are so proud of her!”

OneDublin.org congratulates Ms. Keira Andresen and all of her teaching colleagues that are being recognized for this honor. The event will occur on October, 3rd from 6:00 – 9:00 PM at the Castro Valley Center for the Arts at 19501 Redwood Road. Tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for children. An appetizer reception will occur from 6:00 – 7:00 PM.

For tickets, register at: http://www.acoe.org/acoe/Home/AboutACOE/Communications/Teachers-Year-2013

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