Samantha Foyil, Pioneer Middle School and Cheri Arkell, Woodbrook are teachers of the month for the Rotary Club of Lakewood. Both were invited to attend the Friday, April 8 meeting to receive their honor, and the club’s appreciation for their hard work. Following is more information on the nominees:
Samantha Foyil has been working in the Steilacoom Historical School District for five years and is a sixth grade science teacher at Pioneer Middle School. She is also the Teacher of the Month for March 2011 for the Steilacoom Historical School District from the Rotary Club of Lakewood. She is a dedicated educator who makes learning come alive in her classroom. Through her enthusiasm, excitement and content knowledge she brings learning to a level of relevance and meaning for her students. In addition to her role as a science teacher, Samantha is the sixth grade team leader. In this role, her focus is always on student achievement and ways to increase student learning. She has been instrumental in aligning teaching materials to the State Standards and Grade Level Expectations (GLE’s). She is a building leader, when it comes to school reform efforts. She keeps abreast of current theory, research and data and uses it to improve instruction. In the classroom, Samantha is all about student engagement. Her lessons are fun, relevant and interesting to students. She uses hands on lab experiences and has many interesting creatures in her room… including Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches which, for some reason, students are really drawn to and interested in. Samantha has implemented many “Response-To-Intervention” strategies in her classroom and, as a result, she has had zero missing assignments from students and not a single student has earned a failing grade. And, she has not lowered her academic expectations for her students. Samantha is also the sixth grade camp coordinator and has worked tirelessly to increase the academic vigor of camp. Many camp activities are now an extension of what happens in science classrooms and provide hands-on science inquiry lessons in a real world environment.
Nine superintendents, numerous principals, hundreds of colleagues and thousands of students – Cheri Arkell has seen a lot during her 40 years as an educator. She got her start in Clover Park School District as a kindergartner at Park Lodge Elementary School. From there, she went to Hudtloff Junior High and Clover Park High School before attending Pacific Lutheran University, where she earned her degree in education. Arkell was nominated for the Lakewood Rotary’s award by Woodbrook Principal Nancy LaChapelle, who describes her as “the single greatest educator she has encountered in her 32 years of school experience.” “What I admire most about Mrs. Arkell is that even with her expert grasp of the teaching and learning process, she continuously seeks opportunities to deepen her own understanding of this work. Simply put, she is remarkable.”
Arkell always knew that she wanted to be a teacher – her mother was a teacher at the original Lakeview Elementary School – and her job was at Oakbrook Elementary School the year it opened. Since then, she’s taught nearly every grade level and manages to find positives in every experience. “I’ve loved every grade that I’ve taught, because I’ve learned something new with each experience, said Arkell. “Teaching is special because it provides endless opportunities to grow and is never redundant or boring – it’s infinitely challenging.”
Arkell attempted to retire once, but immediately regretted her decision and returned to teaching, but in the Bethel School District. From there, she made the move back to Clover Park to become the classroom coach at Woodbrook.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a district like Clover Park that is so supportive of its teachers,” said Arkell. “The professional development opportunities that I’ve been fortunate to participate in have made me the educator that I am today. I am so appreciative.” When she’s not at work, Arkell stays busy with her family and grandson. She also enjoys gardening.