The Rotary Club of Kirkland is proud to announce two recipients of the club’s Outstanding Educator Award for 2020. Tiffany Chow is an English Language teacher at Juanita High School, and Justin Hopkins is an AVID teacher and site coordinator at Lake Washington High School.
The Juanita staff reports that Tiffany Chow is the epitome of Rotary’s motto, “Service above Self,” explaining, “She is a gifted instructor.  She is a passionate advocate for students who are typically underserved and/or underrepresented in our school system.  Tiffany is not afraid to challenge the status quo to ensure that all students have access to both academic and extracurricular opportunities.”  One example of this courage is well represented by the work Tiffany’s done to lead Juanita to more closely examine how the school staff communicates regarding the complex processes that make turning out for sports difficult for some of our families.
Principal Kelly Clapp says, “Tiffany is a leader both in the school district and in our school, serving on multiple committees and teams.  At JHS, she serves on the Building Leadership team, serves as a trainer for Culturally Responsive Teaching, and she participates on both our Equity team and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team.”  Clapp compliments Chow’s remarkable commitment, saying, “Tiffany exhibits seemingly tireless energy at all times.  She is unwavering in her belief that we must tackle tough challenges related to equity and inclusion to make school a great place for all students.  Kids love her and she is also liked and respected by her peers, other staff, and administrators.”
Justin Hopkins is called one of the most compassionate and empathetic teachers at Lake Washington High School.  “His ability to connect with students on their level allows him to build meaningful relationships that last beyond the high school experience,” says Principal Christina Thomas.  She explains how Justin’s impact is broader than just teaching English or AVID, “He models for his students what it looks like to hold true to one's core values: family, honesty, and integrity.  Justin is willing to go above and beyond for his students.  He is also one of the class advisors for Lake Washington’s senior class, which is a difficult task these days.”
Justin extends the same compassion toward his colleagues, and he is always willing to confront difficult situations head on, utilizing transparency and honesty in ways that seek to understand and remedy. In situations like these when Justin has challenged preconceived notions, people walk away feeling valued and enlightened by his perspective.  One of Justin’s colleagues reports that, “He is masterful at making kids feel safe, important, and respected.  By establishing these positive relationships with his students, he in turn builds really strong community within each of his classes.  This rapport he builds means that students feel empowered to take ownership not only of their own learning but also that of their peers.”
Justin serves as Lake Washington High School’s AVID teacher and AVID Site Coordinator.  AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a structured college preparatory system that provides direct support for first-generation college-goers.  Ms. Thomas wants Rotarians to know Lake Washington High School is fortunate to have an educator of Justin’s caliber on our staff.  “He is truly deserving of this award,” she says.
The Rotary Club of Kirkland annually asks nearby schools to nominate one educator who best represents characteristics gleaned from the “Object of Rotary” published by Rotary International.  The award grew out of efforts begun in 1989-90 to support local youth and to appreciate the work of those who contribute to their growth into responsible young people.  An outstanding educator should demonstrate evidence of:
  • Capitalizing on his or her relationships as an opportunity for service;
  • Exhibiting high ethical standards in the conduct of his or her professional activities, the recognition of the worthiness of all occupations contributing to quality education, and the dignifying of each educator’s contribution as an opportunity to serve society;
  • Demonstrating the ideal of service in his or her personal, professional, and community life;
  • Contributing to the advancement of understanding and goodwill through an attitude of fellowship among professional allied in the ideal of service.
The Rotary Club of Kirkland recognizes and congratulates Tiffany Chow and Justin Hopkins as Outstanding Educators in 2020.