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Two Snohomish teachers bring home Teacher Of The Year awards

From left, Thom Engel and Matt Johnson

SNOHOMISH — Two Snohomish School District educators won teacher of the year awards: manufacturing instructor Matt Johnson and alternative education teacher Thom Engel.
Johnson teaches manufacturing at Snohomish High School and won the Washington Industrial Technology Education Association (WITEA). There are about 600 teachers in his field.
The Washington Association for Learning Alternatives award went to AIM High School’s Engel, who stood out from about 400 alternative education programs statewide.
Engel’s creativity and commitment inspired the school’s principal, June Shirey, to nominate him.
She said Engel was so dedicated, he planned his surgeries around holidays to be there for his students. And Engel spends summers becoming an expert in electives he tailors to the interests of his pupils.
He has done an entire course on Edgar Allen Poe, another on Shakespeare and a third on the history of rock ’n’ roll.
A highlight of his tenure was when students created a musical version of “Romeo and Juliet,” set to a ’60s soundtrack. The students memorized the antiquated script over a period of months and performed a one-night-only hit to a full house.
Next up, Engel is helping pilot a youth council program to involve students with the Snohomish City Council.
Johnson earned his award with the same high level of commitment and creativity. His coursework centers on applied learning in fields such as aerospace to help graduates land jobs at Boeing and other manufacturers.
Johnson thought outside the box for a recent inspiring project though.
“Last year we had the opportunity to build a tiny house. I talked with a local (business) and got a lumber pack donation to build two — one last year, one this year — that we gave to the Low Income Housing Institute, in Seattle, for people who would (otherwise) be homeless,” Johnson said. The house built last year went to the North 88th Street Tiny House Village.
Johnson wanted to give away the homes but also provide memories for his students to keep long after graduation.
He also inspired seven female students to create a masterful table for a Snohomish Education Foundation auction. The custom dining table fetched $4,000.
WITEA board member Ross Short commended Johnson for his mentorship in the aerospace curriculum and as a robotics advisor. Johnson said he had a
passion for mentorship of other teachers and inspiring students.
Both teachers are helping motivate Snohomish students to excel regardless of the subject.


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