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Going Above & Beyond for Students

Bonita Webb Bonita Webb has been going above and beyond to support her students for more than 20 years, which is one of the many reasons why she’s Kent School District’s Teacher of the Year!

“Students do not learn from teachers with whom they do not have a connection,” Webb said. “Finding connections with even the most introverted student helps foster academic growth. I make sure they know I believe in them, that we can do it together, and then they can do it on their own.”

Webb, an English Language Learner (ELL) Teacher at Meridian Middle School, started teaching in KSD in 1991 and has since taught at Cedar Heights, Mattson, and Northwood middle schools. She played an important role in opening the ELL center at Cedar Heights and helps train new teachers as part of the Washington Education Association and University of Washington’s Culturally Responsive Teacher Series collaboration.

Superintendent Dr. Calvin J. Watts surprised Webb with the award during a virtual meeting on February 25 and thanked her for building relationships with her students and their families to support students’ academic growth as well as their social and emotional needs.

Webb’s surprise and excitement were evident during the surprise announcement.

"I am honored to receive KSD's Teacher of the Year award," she said. "It really is a tribute to my ELL team at Meridian Middle School. I feel very fortunate to work with such an awesome staff who is great at focusing on teaching and learning."

Webb partners with families in their student’s education and supports them with everything from completing reduced lunch forms to providing homework help in the evenings and home visits. Webb goes above and beyond to ensure her student’s families have the support they need.

“English language learners connect to academic instruction through their lived experience,” Webb explained. “I constantly help students make connections between their lived experience and the grade level academic standards in English, math, science, and social studies.” 
“I take pride in learning about my students, their families and where they come from. Often my students are the caregiver and academic liaison for their younger siblings. Once parents are home and my student is afforded time to concentrate on their studies, I make myself available to meet with them in the evening to connect, reinstruct anScreenshot of Teams meeting announcement d complete work.”

Webb actively listens, responds to their needs, and celebrates the academic achievements and personal successes of her students to help them feel wanted and welcome in her classroom. Even during remote learning, she has continued to create an environment where there is time for students to socialize, connect, and feel included in a community.

“I work diligently to encourage my students to become a school family where they understand and support one another,” Webb said. “I strive to make sure that all my students feel included and welcomed each day.”

At the end of each week, Webb invites student to drop-in to her virtual classroom to watch a movie and socialize with their classmates. She said they discuss what they liked about the movie and connect it to their own lives and what they’re learning. This leads to students opening up and sharing about their lives in a way that’s not always possible in remote learning.

Meridian Middle School Principal Darice Johnson said Webb also collaborates with other teachers and staff at Meridian to ensure they’re working together to provide the best support possible for each and every student.

“Working in a high needs school with a diverse population requires special skills. Mrs. Webb understands how the social and emotional needs of students are just as important to nurture and cultivate as their academics,” Johnson said in her nomination form.

Webb’s belief in equity, commitment to supporting her students and families, and her focus on continuous improvement are some of the many reasons why she’s our Teacher of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year.