Alumna named Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year
City University of Seattle alumna Bethany Moffatt has been teaching for only six years, but in that time she’s passed her love of reading onto numerous students, and helped her school, Lakeridge Elementary School, go from one in need of improvement to a 2016 School of Distinction. As a testament to her contributions, Bethany was recognized as the 2018 Outstanding Elementary Teacher of the Year for Renton School District.
“It was a complete surprise,” Bethany said. “When they announced that the teacher of the year was in the room, I was like, ‘Ooh, I wonder who it is…’ and then my class stood up and pointed to me, and it was a rush of joy. It felt nice to realize that someone else saw how much I do for my kids at home and at school, but it could have been any one of my colleagues because everyone at my school gives 110 percent to their kids.”
Bethany’s first couple of years in the classroom were a bit of a trial-by-fire situation.
“Many people warned me it was going to be a stressful situation,” Bethany said. “My first couple of years were intense training and professional development, but it was worth it as our results data shows.”
Spreading a love of reading
Bethany is a lover of books and an avid reader. When she recognized the challenges her students were facing, she was motivated to continue her education as a way to gain more skills to support them.
“I did a two-year Master of Education in Reading and Literacy program and earned National Board Certification in literacy as well,” Bethany said. “Knowing my students and the population we serve, I knew I needed more skills to benefit my students.”
She demonstrates the behavior that she hopes to see from her students.
“Growing up, I didn’t love reading until I found Harry Potter,” Bethany said. “There were a lot of kids the first year for whom reading was a chore and they hated it. By modeling a reading life – a genuine love – I help them find it too. We work hard to find their niche or genre that they can enjoy.”
In addition to helping students find books that pique their interest, she uses a variety of strategies to make reading more fun.
“I often read aloud and use different voices for each character,” Bethany said. “I had five kids do that same thing I do. They weren’t afraid to do voices; they’ve watched me do it and then they did it. Watching them internalize something I taught them [is something I really enjoy].”
Inspiring future teachers
In addition to teaching children, Bethany is also teaching adult learners as a course instructor at CityU.
“I had a couple of really great experiences with instructors [when I was a student at CityU],” Bethany said. “I didn’t realize that instructors are working professionals who can share their experiences, and I thought that was awesome.”
Now, she enjoys sharing the insight she’s gained in the classroom with others. In fact, that experience has opened up a whole new career path in education for her.
“My goal is to teach teachers how to teach, and to share what I know about literacy and how to help students love literacy,” Bethany said.