Lindbergh High School English teacher Katie Arens was named Lindbergh Schools’ 2016 Teacher of the Year during a surprise ceremony at her school on Thursday.
At Lindbergh High School, Arens has introduced innovative teaching strategies to help the entire school embrace 21st-century learning, while simultaneously developing a student advisory program dedicated to academics and character development, according to a news release.
Most recently, she wrote first-of-its-kind curriculum for a brand-new English class that incorporates 21st-century skills and Project Based Learning, or PBL. Her fellow teachers say English PBL is arguably the most challenging curriculum in the LHS English Department, and that Arens is constantly revamping, redesigning and reorganizing her lessons as the course develops to ensure that students learn critical skills. She is a collaborative partner who works well with students and coworkers, and is not afraid to gather feedback, self-reflect and make her lessons better.
PBL is an emerging trend in education that allows students to focus in-depth on a topic that interests them, developing critical thinking, problem-solving skills and various forms of reading and writing skills through a variety of speaking and listening activities. It emphasizes student choice in the learning process: choice in assignment type; choice in assessment type; and most importantly, choice in the revision process.
“Ms. Arens is a teacher who inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn,” Principal Eric Cochran stated in the release. “She represents all of the phenomenal teachers at LHS, and will do a great job as she advances to Missouri’s regional level competition. She has earned the respect of students, parents, and colleagues, and we are proud that she has been selected to represent Lindbergh teachers districtwide.”
Arens developed and implemented the high school’s PAC Advisory Council, a program that connects teachers and students to help students plan for their academic future while focusing on character development. In this role, she has helped execute four schoolwide service learning projects for more than 2,000 students, creating meaningful and engaging learning experiences.
“I really could not be here without all of you,” Arens told the LHS faculty during the surprise announcement. “I appreciate your help so much, and all of your support.”
Arens is a member of the LHS Character Council, a student teaching mentor teacher and a leader in professional development for her colleagues. She has been an English teacher at LHS since 2011 and earned her bachelor of science degree in secondary education at the University of Missouri-Columbia.