“I love teaching new ideas to others”

Teacher Feature – Ms. K, Science

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Ms. K has had a lot of practice teaching Armijo students.

For the past 30 years, Ms. Dawn Konstantinopoulos has been teaching at Armijo, but she didn’t start here. “I have taught in Vacaville, Paradise, and in Illinois,” she said. This year, she teaches freshmen science, but has also taught conceptual science honors and living earth biology over the years.

Ms. Konstantinopoulos has been a high school ever since she graduated from college, but while she was a student, she worked at Burger King and, in the summers, as a lifeguard. “All through college I worked as a life guard and eventually the pool manager each summer,” she said.

She went into teaching for a number of related reasons. “I love teaching new ideas to others,” she said. “I like being around young growing minds and helping them develop into the people they will eventually become. In addition I like the work hours. I like having the summers off to spend with my own kids, so I can be a teacher and a mom/cheerleader.” Both of her children played sports.

Last year’s experience was very different from all of her other teaching. During Distance Learning, she was challenged. “You could not develop relationships with the students. It did not really feel like teaching to me. Also, I had to develop new curriculum that would work 100% digitally, learn how to Zoom, learn how to put together e-assignments and labs. It was one of the hardest years teaching,” she said.

When it was time to relax, she found that her hobbies of reading, shopping, and spending time with family really paid off. “Nowadays, fun means spending it with my 18 month old granddaughter!”

That granddaughter is the child of Ms. Konstantinopoulos’s oldest daughter, who graduated from Armijo in 2010 and married to her high school sweetheart. They all live in Dixon.

Ms. Konstantinopoulos’s younger daughter lives in Mesa, Arizona and works for State Farm.

“My spouse and I live in Esparto on a walnut farm,” said Ms. Konstantinopoulos. “He is a retired Armijo High IB science teacher.”

Despite all the challenges over the years, Ms. Konstantinopoulos would still encourage students to who have an interest to pursue a career in teaching, but she offers this advice: “Have empathy for your students. Be prepared/ organized. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, they’re going to happen. Find a mentor teacher. They can play a big role in helping you start a successful career as a teacher. Know your material you’ll have to lesson plans. Be flexible. Be ready for anything your days are never the same.”

And for those who don’t want to be students, she wishes they would become more focused, especially those who are wandering around campus instead of spending time in class.

“Those students are missing out on their education and are causing disruptions to other classes,” she said. “They loudly wander the hallways, enter classrooms where there are subs and wreak havoc in those classes, and make the job of the hallway monitors that much harder to do. “

After a rough year, Ms. Konstantinopoulos has had a good start for 2021-2022. “Students seem to be happy to be back in school and are working real hard,” she said. “I’m enjoying being back in the classroom after all these months of virtual teaching.”

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