Years of teaching rewarded

Teacher of the Year – Ms. Dawn Konstantinopoulus

Twenty-five+years+of+hard+work%2C+patience%2C+and+dedication+at+Armijo+lands+this+freshman+biology+teacher+a+major+award.

Twenty-five years of hard work, patience, and dedication at Armijo lands this freshman biology teacher a major award.

Maya Adimora, Co-Editor-in-Chief / Beyond the Gates editor

The wait is over! After 25 years teaching freshmen at Armijo, Ms. Dawn Konstantinopoulos is recognized as Armijo’s 2022-2023 Teacher of the Year.

Although she was certainly surprised that she won—“I felt very honored that I would be chosen out of all the amazing teachers that were up for the award this year”—the passion that she holds for her job clearly shows why received the award. As the science department’s co-chair, Ms. Konstantinopoulos has always gone the extra mile in tirelessly transforming the department into a productive and welcoming work environment. “Always willing to print sub plans, make copies, or give advice to new or veteran teachers in her department,” commented one peer, “she possesses a positive attitude that is infectious both in the science department and in her classes.”

In light of this stellar achievement, I am delighted to share Ms. Konstantinopoulos’s thoughts on the teaching profession, her teaching journey, and a future for aspiring teachers. Ms. Konstantinopoulos has primarily taught science (biology, physics, physical and integrated science) to freshmen for over 30 years.

“Each day, students bring new energy into the classroom, the topic being taught changes, and as the unit progresses you can see how the knowledge has sunk into their minds,” she said. The transition from middle school to high school is a big change in a teenager’s life as they go from eighth graders at the top of the middle school food chain to realizing that they are little fish in a big pond. Freshmen are learning to adapt to a larger campus, settle into their personalities, and plan out their futures as adulthood quickly approaches. That’s why Ms. Konstantinopoulos loves teaching freshmen to “watch them throughout the year as they grow their minds and mature into the young people they are eventually going to become.”

But, Ms. Konstantinopoulos has a greater responsibility in helping them become respectful and responsible young adults. To aspiring teachers, she says to “have empathy for your students”, “be prepared/organized right from the start”, and most importantly “be flexible and be ready for anything [because] your days are never the same!” She noted that the poor attitude of some students toward school and learning is something that needs to change—not only at Armijo High School but nationwide. Instead of wandering the halls and disturbing others, students should take advantage of the education provided to them and make themselves better people ready to take on the world. Teachers are a necessary cornerstone in a young person’s life, so they should be prepared to mentally challenge their students while also providing support.

Although Ms. K, as she is usually called, frequently celebrates her coworkers by organizing potlucks, team building events, and surprise birthday parties, her family decided to return the favor in celebrating her latest achievement. Ms. K’s eldest daughter and her family met up in Dixon for a nice dinner at Cattlemen’s.

When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys quality time with her two grandchildren, trying to reach her goal of 20,000 steps each day, and reading murder mystery novels over the weekend.