Tina Nicpan-Brown Selected As 2022 Regional Teacher of the Year
The North Central Educational Service District (NCESD) has selected Tina Nicpan-Brown, 5th grade remote learning educator at the Wenatchee Internet Academy for the Wenatchee School District, as the 2022 Regional Teacher of the Year. Nicpan-Brown is now eligible for state honors through the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Nicpan-Brown leads her classroom instruction by focusing on drawing connections to the students’ family interactions, culture and the community. She begins with a science standard and then incorporates reading, math, writing, and social studies standards. She then layers in engineering, art, technology and inclusionary practices. Finally, she involves the community with field experiences, career connections, family involvement and expert interviews.
“By looking at my instructional design in layers, I am better able to tap into individual student curiosities and experience. I have observed that students lose so much of their natural curiosity when subjects are taught separately and by skill. Making connections to students’ everyday lives is critical in order to experience positive outcomes.”
Tina Nicpan-Brown, 2022 Regional Teacher of the Year (North Central Washington)
During the past year, Nicpan-Brown was given the opportunity to explore creative ways to engage families and students through “Road School”. Providing instruction via Zoom, Nicpan-Brown traveled to different locations and taught from the road, introducing students to experiences they may not otherwise have access to. Students “visited” the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, spoke with a survivor of the Japanese American Exclusion Camps, opened lock doors of military forts, and climbed the stairs of a lighthouse.
“The entire time they were engaged, exposed to new ideas and places, and most importantly, shared their connection with their families,” Nicpan-Brown said. “Families want to be part of their childrens’ lives, but unfortunately for some families time will always be a major factor against their involvement. Providing students with project-based learning opportunities allows them to interact with their families when most convenient. Applying basic concepts of the standards to real life learning in their home or neighborhood provides family interactions and increases student engagement.”
Nicpan-Brown is one of three elementary science teachers in Washington who have been selected as a state-level finalist for the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the highest honor bestowed on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science teachers.
In her 20 years as an educator with 17 years of service at Wenatchee School District, Nicpan-Brown has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant money and STEM opportunities on a district-wide level. Just during the 2020-21 school year, she partnered with University of Washington and University of Illinois, Code.org, Cascadia Conservation District with the Kids in the Forest, Wenatchee Arts Education Consortium, and more.
“I tell my students I have a simple job. I promise a safe learning environment for them to explore. Usually they laugh or tilt their heads and try to decide if I am telling the truth. It’s really that simple to me. I believe an educator only needs three things to provide a student a well-rounded educational experience: a positive relationship, exposure to real-world experiences, and the encouragement to be curious.”