Sultan science teacher’s work earns national recognition

SULTAN — A science teacher here is receiving national recognition for her work in the classroom.

Karissa Kelley started teaching biology and chemistry at Sultan High School two years ago. Now, she’s being honored with the 2015 award for new teachers by the National Science Teacher Association.

“It’s fantastic,” Superintendent Dan Chaplik said. “It speaks to the great work she and all of our staff do every day.”

As this year’s honoree, Kelley is set to attend the association’s annual conference in Chicago next month. She will take courses to sharpen her skill in the classroom and gather ideas to bring back to Sultan.

“Beg, borrow and steal is kind of our motto in teaching,” she said.

Kelley aims to keep her students motivated in the classroom by teaching them scientific lessons through working in the lab. “When they get their hands on and get involved, those abstract concepts start to make a lot more sense,” she said.

Kelley often takes students to nearby Osprey Park, where they measure pH levels, oxygen, temperature and the depth of the Skykomish River. They also get to work in the salmon hatchery on campus in Kelley’s biology class.

“I don’t think I’d want to take it from any other teacher,” said Haleigh Dilday, a junior in biology. “Having a teacher who cares is really important to me.”

She said appreciates that Kelley takes time to work with students individually.

Dilday, 17, said biology was one of the toughest subjects for her. But Kelley’s lab activities have made learning the concepts much easier.

“I like having the visual and the hands-on experience instead of just looking at a paper,” Dilday said.

Monica Chavez is a senior in Kelley’s chemistry class. She said students painted panels on a wall in Kelley’s classroom to represent the periodic table. They researched the elements, brought in examples of them and made presentations to the class. Chavez was assigned helium so she used a balloon for her demonstration.

Chavez, 17, credits Kelley, who has two young children at home, for staying two hours after school every week to help her pass the tests needed to graduate.

“I used to be that person who didn’t like science,” Chavez said. “But now I’d like to take it further.”

Chavez said she hopes to become an attorney. She plans to study forensic science to aid her work in the legal field. She’s taking Kelley’s forensics chemistry class in which students work to solve a murder mystery.

“It’s like real life,” Principal Tami Nesting said. “We have this clue and that clue so how do we use science to solve it?”

It is lessons like these that help Kelley share her passion for science with her students, Nesting said.

At the upcoming conference, Kelley hopes to gather ideas for using gardens to teach genetics. Until this year, the greenhouse at Sultan High had not been used for classes in a long time. Kelley plans to expand the course offerings in the greenhouse with what she learns in Chicago.

Kelley grew up in Palouse in Eastern Washington. She earned her master’s degree at nearby Washington State University in Pullman. She decided to become a teacher after volunteering at a Boys &Girls Club and tutoring students.

“I really enjoyed teaching and helping students,” she said. “I’m obsessed with science so I decided to combine both passions.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @AmyNileReports.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist identified in fatal crash near Lake Stevens

Anthony Palko, 33, died Monday night after colliding with a passenger car. The juveniles in the car were taken to the hospital.

Marysville
Police: Marysville man shot sword-wielding roommate in self-defense

The roommates were arguing over eBay sales, according to police. Then one of them allegedly brandished a two-foot sword.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Everett boy, 12, identified as Davies Beach drowning victim

Malachi Bell was one of three swimmers in distress Sunday in Lake Stevens. He did not survive.

Everett
Port of Everett hosting annual open house after pandemic hiatus

Also, Rustic Cork Wine Bar plans to open a second shop at Fisherman’s Harbor — the latest addition to the port’s “wine walk.”

Mike Kersey with Aiya Moore, daughter of Christina Anderson, right, talk about the condition of Nick’s Place in Everett, Washington on June 17, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
‘We’re all good people when we get clean and sober’

Who has fentanyl taken from us? A messenger who saved lives. A “street mom.” A grandpa who loved his grandkids “999 trillion times.”

Snohomish County Superior Courthouse in Everett, Washington on February 8, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bailiff’s comments leads to appeal of child rape conviction

Joseph Hall, of Snohomish, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison. Now he faces another trial.

Jeffrey Vaughan
In unexpected move, Vaughan resigns from Marysville council

He got re-elected in November. But he and his wife moved to Texas when she received a job promotion.

Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell at the Snohomish County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
How to answer Snohomish County’s basic crime questions? ‘Transparent data’

An initiative funded in part by Microsoft could reveal racial disparities, while creating an “apples to apples” database.

Chris Rutland and son Julian buy fireworks from the Big House of Boom stall at Boom City on Thursday, June 30, 2022 in Tulalip, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At Tulalip’s Boom City, fireworks are a family tradition

Generations have grown up at the Fourth of July institution. “Some people make good money, some are just out here for the pastime.”

Most Read