In a competition against top teachers throughout the state, Ogletree Elementary’s Kathryn Knorr qualified as an Alabama Teacher of the Year Finalist. The third-grade teacher was one of four teachers to become finalists.
On the school level, Knorr was nominated by all of her fellow third-grade teachers as well as other school faculty. The nomination process included faculty and parents.
“Her grade level 100 % block voted for her,” said Ogletree Elementary Principal Caroline Raville. “She’s the third-grade department chair, and I think they’re just really grateful for all the work she’s done for them.”
Knorr’s position as her department chair gives her extra responsibilities such as mentoring new teachers and communicating between administration and her department. She frequently stays late working in leadership roles and serving on committees, Raville said.
Knorr is currently taking a dyslexia course to better cater to her students. She is always one of the first teachers to volunteer for any professional developmental course, Raville said.
“She is really selfless,” Raville said. “It’s one thing to work really hard, [but] it’s another thing to sacrifice your own time to help somebody else. I think that stood out to [the third-grade department,] and I know they’re grateful for it.”
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Knorr comes from a family of educators, deciding to become one herself at a young age. She has taught second and third grades in her career so far.
Knorr’s class involves plenty of hands-on work and group work. She likes to ask her students questions and to ask for volunteers, keeping them engaged in the lesson.
“Her class tends to be a bit noisy, but in a good way,” Raville said. “It’s definitely not a situation where she’s talking and the kids do all the listening. The kids do a lot of talking in her room.”
Knorr especially enjoys reading with her students, whether she is reading to them or they are reading in groups. She always enjoys rising to the challenge of a complicated lesson or a reluctant learner.
“I [once] had a very reluctant reader,” Knorr said. “I took it as a challenge and made it my mission to find books he would be interested in. I found out he was a bit competitive, so I made it into a class competition. He just took off … competing with others. I felt like that was a breakthrough for me.”
Knorr has held multiple leadership positions and has been recognized in the past, but the state’s Teacher of the Year competition has been the highest honor she has achieved thus far, she said.
“The best honor of this whole process was when my colleagues chose me to be the Ogletree Elementary teacher of the year,” Knorr said. “These are the people that know me and work with me day-in and day-out. Everything past that has been a great honor, but knowing my colleagues chose me has been the biggest honor.”
For the foreseeable future, Knorr plans to stay as a teacher. She has been told by colleagues that she would make a great school administrator, but she would rather continue making a community in her classroom.
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