Faculty and staff at Finley Junior High School in Waxahachie, Texas, selected Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna Karina White as the 2013 Teacher of the Year.
White says, “I have desired to teach since childhood. I enjoy showing students to become better communicators and better writers. I love teaching at the junior high level. I can’t see myself teaching anything or anyone else.”
Teacher of the Year is awarded annually to a Finley Junior High teacher who stands out for excellence. Faculty and staff nominate teachers and vote on the nominees. Each year, a Secondary Teacher of the Year is chosen from the Waxahachie Independent School District’s (WISD) secondary school Teacher of the Year award recipients. This year, White will be recognized at the Excellence Gala, where the WISD Secondary Teacher of the Year will be announced.
White has taught at Finley for 13 years. She began teaching at Finley as a technology teacher in Fall 2000 upon graduating from SAGU. Currently she teaches seventh and eighth grade English.
White emphasizes the importance of building relationships in the junior high classroom. She says, “For most of us, junior high wasn’t the greatest time in our lives. Junior high students care about personal relationships, and it is crucial for teachers to connect with them. We must help them connect to the material and show them how it is valuable and personal to them.”
White intentionally connects to students outside the classroom. She says, “I try to be involved in students’ lives outside the classroom by sponsoring student council, coaching UIL, and attending activities such as dances, rehearsals, concerts and sports competitions. When students see you in a crowd, they know you care.”
White is from El Paso, Texas, where she attended an Assemblies of God church in the Gulf-Latin District. She enrolled at SAGU in Fall 1995 and graduated in May 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in secondary English with specializations in business and English.
While at SAGU, White developed her passion for teaching English and literature. She says, “The SAGU professors opened my eyes to writing and literature in a way that I had never experienced before. There was a passion in me to teach the subject that I never even knew was there. I would diagram sentences for fun. Who does that?”
White is married to SAGU alumnus and Learning Center Assistant Director Mark White. The couple was married in December 2000 and has three children: Brisa, Nadia and Isaac.