“Why Would You Want to be a Teacher?” Katie Graupman has the Answer!
In her testimony before the Idaho State legislature earlier this year, 2013 Milken Award winner Katie Graupman shared a seminal experience from her career as a professional educator. Graupman graduated from Priest River Lamanna High School as valedictorian and as a National Merit Finalist, so she was well prepared to take on virtually any challenge and had a multitude of career options. But when Katie talked with friends about her desire to be a teacher, she was taken aback by the response.
What she heard was consistent puzzlement. “You could do anything. Why would you want to be a teacher? Why would you want to waste your talents doing that? Are you really that lazy?”
The interesting twist was that Katie already knew how important teachers were and what she calls the “Herculean effort” that it takes to excel in the profession. Because Katie’s mother, Peg Suenkel, had been a teacher for many years in small Idaho towns like Plummer, Grangeville, Priest River, Idaho Hill and St. Maries. So Katie knew just what she was getting into and had no qualms about choosing a career where she could make a difference in the lives of children.
“Every day I have the opportunity to positively and permanently impact the lives of about 100 other human beings,” Graupman told Idaho legislators. She went on to encourage lawmakers to provide the resources that professional educators need to maximize student learning. “Idaho students deserve the best educators, and the best educators deserve your support,” Graupman noted in her remarks to both the House and Senate Education Committees.
Now in her 13th year as a professional educator, Katie teaches English at Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake. Students under her tutelage have increased their scores on the ISAT and on writing assessments each year. In nominating her for the Milken Award, Graupman’s colleagues described her with words like innovative, leader, mentor and courageous. They also praised her work ethic and focus on mastery for all of her students.
While Katie loves her job and has no regrets about her career choice, she does have concerns about the future of the profession. She notes that many teachers are disheartened by the lack of support and respect that they receive and is troubled by the fact that potential teachers are being steered in other directions.
“We need to send the message that Idaho students possess limitless potential and that Idaho supports its students, teachers and schools,” Graupman told lawmakers. “Nothing less than the future of Idaho depends on this.”
As we shine our member spotlight on Milken Award winner Katie Graupman, we can’t help but feel that Spirit Lake students are very fortunate that she ignored the naysayers and forged a rewarding career as a professional educator.