Patience, flexibility keys to Knabe’s success
Sarah Knabe, second-grade teacher at Lake Hamilton School District, is driven by her passion for students. Recipient of the 2017 Reader’s Choice Award for Best Teacher of the Year from The Sentinel-Record, Knabe started her 12th year teaching at Lake Hamilton this year. Prior to her career at Lake Hamilton, she taught first grade at Malvern School District for two years.
What made you get into teaching in the first place?
Sarah Knabe: I always wanted to be a teacher. I just like working with kids, I like watching them grow and learn. I like the little ones; I don’t know if I could go above second grade.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
SK: There’s a few different things. The main thing, and I think any teacher would probably say this, would just be that ‘ah-ha’ moment when they get it and they’re just so proud of themselves and you can just see their confidence because they understand and they get it. So that would be the main thing. Then, and this is more toward Lake Hamilton, it’s just like a little family. I have two different families where I’ve taught all three of the siblings. You’re a family, you get to know each other and they grow up wanting to be in your class because their older siblings had you. It’s just that family atmosphere; it’s just different here.
What about your dislikes?
SK: I really don’t have any dislikes! We were at dinner the other night and everybody was griping about something and my husband said, ‘Everybody can gripe about something about their job, except for Sarah.’
What is your education background?
SK: I have my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from University of Central Arkansas, I have one master’s degree in Educational Theory and Practice from ASU, I have another master’s degree in Gifted, Talented and Creative from ASU, and I’m also a national board certified teacher. That usually takes three years to do; luckily I passed the first year. It’s just this special certification. It doesn’t mean that we can teach in other states or anything, it’s just kind of like a highly qualified teacher. We get a bonus from the state for doing that.
What qualities must one have to be an elementary school teacher?
SK: They have to have a lot of patience and be very flexible because nothing ever goes as planned. Not just from the kids, but new laws are always being made, everything’s changing, you never do the same thing.
What’s a typical day like for you at work?
SK: In second grade we’re self-contained so we teach every subject. The main big chunks are reading and math but we integrate our science and social studies into our reading. Every 20-30 minutes is something new.
How did you feel when you found out you were Best Teacher of the Year?
SK: It was really exciting. Last year I got second place and it was totally out of the blue. Then this year I was like, ‘Oh, I won’t get it again,’ because there were so many people on that list that were so deserving I didn’t think I would get it at all, so I was really surprised. We don’t get a lot of recognition.