Laura Beck named Teacher of the Year

Superintendent Donna Peterson (left), Seward Middle Principal Trevan Walker and KPBSD Board of Education President Sammy Crawford (right) pose with BP Teacher of the Year Laura Beck.
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As the commendations for each Kenai Peninsula BP Teacher of Excellence were read Monday night, Seward Middle teacher Laura Beck, one of the six educators being recognized, tried to figure out who would get the additional honor of being named Teacher of the Year.

“I kept listening to all the accomplishments of the other five BP excellence teachers, and it made me feel like I paled in comparison to all the awards and things that they’ve done,” she said.

BP representative Gary Boubel was about halfway through the presentation naming Teacher of the Year before Beck realized he was talking about her.

“Oh, that person is a lot like me,” she thought. Then, “Oh, it is me.”

“It really, really surprised me,” she said.  “I got a little sentimental there because I didn’t feel that I was as deserving as the other teachers that were standing there with me. I think it’s such a great thing for this District to have such wonderful teachers, and I was one of them.”

Along with Beck, five educators were honored as BP Teachers of Excellence at a dinner May 12: McNeil Canyon Elementary special education teacher Amy Budge, Kalifornsky Beach Elementary kindergarten teacher Diane McBee, West Homer Elementary special education teacher Karen Murdock, Kenai Middle seventh grade teacher Tim Sandahl, and Soldotna High language arts teacher Mathew Walton.

Of those, Beck was named the Teacher of the Year largely for her dedication to students that often involves hours of work outside the classroom, including being a coach, librarian and all-around mentor.

Beck was inspired to be a teacher by her mother, and she said she learned long ago that teaching is a lifestyle, rather than just a profession.

“You gotta go beyond the classroom to make a difference in today’s world. You can’t just be done with it at the end of school and go home,” she said.


Seward Middle School teacher Laura Beck and her principal, Trevan Walker, react to hearing she’s been named the BP Teacher of the Year.
 bp toy laura beck
After several years as an elementary teacher, Beck made the switch to middle school 11 years ago when she and her family moved to Seward from the central peninsula. She found herself faced with the challenge of needing to teach more than just academics.

“Seventh and eighth grade are such important learning years. They learn so much socially about what’s acceptable and what’s not … that there’s ramifications for everything,” Beck said. “I do spend an awful lot of time outside of academics trying to make them realize what a better person is, and they pick up on it really strongly.”

An emphasis on citizenship permeates the atmosphere of Seward Middle, and Beck said it’s great to have the staff on board for a shared goal.

It also was great to have the support of her community in the BP award process.

“Nothing is more humbling than to have thanks from your parents and students and to be recognized for the things that you do,” she said. “It makes it so worthwhile to continue doing what I’m doing.”

But the most worthwhile part of her job – correction, lifestyle – is seeing her students succeed.

“That door is just always open to come back and let me know about those successes, because I’m just as proud of them at 18, 19 years old,” she said. “… They are an extended family, and that goes back to that lifestyle thing. You can’t just be a teacher for a couple hours a day.”