Teaching Runs in the Family for Dawn King
Now getting great satisfaction from her role as the Reading Specialist at Grace Jordan Elementary in Boise, Dawn King recently reflected on the genesis of her career as a professional educator, and found that the seeds were planted at an early age. Born in Pocatello, King has early memories of her mother teaching on the Bannock Indian reservation. Then the family moved to Boise, where her mother was a first grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary and she taught English at North Junior High School and later was the longtime principal at Capital High School.
With the importance of education instilled in her from an early age, King went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from BYU and a Master’s Degree from Boise. She then embarked on her own teaching career, starting as an early elementary teacher in Utah and Wyoming before returning to Idaho. Jackson Elementary School was her home away from home as a first grade teacher for 22 years before closing six years ago, prompting King’s move to Grace Jordan. When her long-time teaching partner, Donna Moore retired three years ago, King took on a new challenge as the school’s Reading Specialist.
The family ties to education are seemingly endless for King. Her sister, Becky Gibson, is a teacher at Chief Joseph Elementary in Meridian. Two of Dawn’s sons are teaching in Boise—Terance at South Junior High School and Cameron at Fairmont Junior High School, and both of her daughters are teachers in other states. Two nieces and a cousin are also teachers in Boise.
Addressing Key Issues in Reading and Literacy
King’s extensive background in the classroom has served her very well as a reading specialist, and King recently brought her expertise to the Idaho Reading and Literacy Summit, which the IEA helped to sponsor.
“I firmly believe that every K-12 teacher should be a reading specialist”, says King in discussing how to improve reading and literacy in Idaho. She also points to some recent trends in identifying obstacles to better reading among today’s children. “Reading can be hard work in comparison to the ease of video games and television. We have taught kids to speed read, when comprehension is the most important aspect of reading”.
King is somewhat encouraged by the impact that the new Idaho Core Standards can have on reading skills. “Raising the bar will help, and I am confident that teachers and students will rise to meet the higher expectations”, she says. King is also a proponent of moving past the concept of “drill and kill” and on to teaching a more analytical approach.
Another suggestion? Give students more choice in selecting the books that they read, rather than demanding that everyone read the same book.