With a fun-loving spirit and a contagious, positive attitude, it’s easy to see why Perkins Elementary students adore Karen Birchmier. They enjoy being in her company, they like her, they do well for her.
As Perkins’ in-class reading and math support teacher, her room is bursting with colorful baskets, books and binders. One wall holds the white board, which is consumed with addition strategies. A green bench holds the counting charts and the one-inch ruled tablet with the alphabet. There are vocabulary game cards and pieces.
A single table sits in the middle of the room. It’s clear this is where the learning, listening, conversation and fun happen.
“I love the spontaneity and variety that children bring to education every day,” says Birchmier. “They are passionate about understanding what they have just read, but they are also passionate about losing a tooth, and that makes me smile.”
Birchmier, who has taught at Perkins for six years, says the staff and their principal are what make the school stand out.
“We all focus on character and hold the expectations high,” she states. “We make our students feel happy and build them up. We believe in hard work, building character and really hone in on positive interventions.”
With all this hard work, coupled with her unmistakable passion for children and education, it’s no surprise that Birchmier was the 2012 Golden Apple award recipient from WHO Channel 13. She giggles as she admits she tells her students the floating gold pieces in her golden apple trophy are real.
As the school year begins, Birchmier is looking forward to the Perkins book drive, clothing drive and the one-stop conference night where their nutrition team hands out apples and crackers as families leave parent/teacher conferences.
When not building counting blocks and vocabularies with elementary students, Birchmier loves to travel. She went to Aruba in 2011 and is planning a trip to Europe for next summer. On the local map, you can find her with her two daughters traveling to soccer games and show choir performances.
She also hopes to improve her golf handicap so she doesn’t embarrass her husband when they retire together.