Educator Spotlight: Karie Frauenhoffer
Optimism, playfulness sustain seventh grade teacher in North Carolina
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
One day during Karie Frauenhoffer’s first year of teaching seventh grade, she pulled all the students’ desks together in a circle, where they had lunch with one another like family and ended up singing in unison the cups song from “Pitch Perfect.”
Ten years later, those students still remember the laughter from that day, but they remember Karie more. Her silliness – the singing and the dancing and the impromptu paper ball fights across the room – it’s what helps her students to thrive, and it’s what keeps Karie motivated, too.
“I’m a nut, and I own that completely,” says Karie, who teaches junior high language arts and social studies in Kernersville, North Carolina. “In my adult life, I’m actually quite introverted, but in a classroom, I have no shame. I’m willing to do anything to get this content to the kids and bring the content to life. It’s all for the benefit of learning.”
‘Problem solvers of the world’
Like many other teachers, Karie second-guessed everything in the beginning. Am I doing this right? Am I giving the students what they need? Am I even teaching right now? But Karie’s also the kind of teacher whose glass is half full, and she’s full to the brim with fortitude.
“There are still times I don’t know what I’m doing, but then I remember that you don’t get better without practice, so I’m always willing to try something,” says Karie, who last year received Southeast Middle School Teacher of the Year. “I now have a new comfort level with everything, and it’s been really rewarding.”
Just like her students, Karie’s colleagues lean into her energy, too. She’s the “resident geek squad,” the one her school turns to for their tech integration needs, and the one who provides comfort these days.
“I heard someone say recently that teachers are the chief problem solvers in the world, and that this is our chance to show we can do this,” Karie says, “and that could not be more true. We were made for this!
“We’ve always had our backs up against the walls, but we continue to get up every morning, get dressed and we continue to teach the kids. No matter what the circumstances – we teach even when meteors are falling! – because it’s what we want to do.”
Karie is playful and warm-hearted, persistent and brave. She’s missing her students at school, who reach out to her now during remote learning just to tell her they miss her silly nagging at the lockers to hurry up, and she’s missing her colleagues, too, but she’s incredibly grateful to be among the effervescent teachers of the world.
She revels in the supportive and mighty educator community on Twitter, and she encourages others, too, to participate, share and learn from one another during virtual teaching.
“It’s really hard right now – I’m trying really, really hard actually – but we’re going to make it work,” Karie says. “I keep trying to create new experiences for the students, always trying to find ways to make lemonade out of lemons, and I always will.
“I have a lot of unfinished business in the classroom, so many things I want to accomplish, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t love what I do.”