High expectations earn high award for teacher

POULSBO — Whether she’s making them craft a report on the book “12 Angry Men” or making sure they pay attention when she reads the works of John Steinbeck out loud, Sue Kaizuka doesn’t go easy on her students.

And that’s just one reason the Poulsbo Junior High English teacher earned the Washington State PTA Council’s “Outstanding Educator” Award last week.

Kaizuka is the first North Kitsap educator to receive the award since its creation in 2000.

“This is kind of a historic event,” said PTA council representative Therese Caldwell.

Parent-Teacher Association members and students said that Kaizuka’s dedication to high standards made her a natural for the award.

“She pushes them hard to do their best,” remarked Rachael Fisk, who is a student of Kaizuka. Fisk said she enjoys the activities in Kaizuka’s class, whether the group is free writing, reading newspapers or joining with unfamiliar students to work on projects.

“She expects a lot of students. But she does it in a way that makes them respected and encouraged,” Marcy Salo, secretary of the Panthers’ PTA, said of Kaizuka. “She treats them with respect and makes them want to meet her expectations.”

Kaizuka received several gift certificates as part of the award, including one each from J.J’s Fish House, Liberty Bay Books and Mimi’s Manicures. Kaizuka was especially delighted by the latter.

“I just grew my nails out for the first time in my life,” she exclaimed.

Kaizuka joined the staff at PJH 14 years ago after eight years of teaching at Wolfle Elementary. She said she especially likes watching students connect to books and will often read out loud to them, a step she believes is essential. Recent selections have included “The Red Pony” and “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck and Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild.”

Kaizuka knows about her reputation.

“I have a reputation for having high expectations for students,” she said, adding that the reputation is accurate. “I want students to meet my expectations, and I don’t lower them for anybody.”

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