A special education teacher with a passion for his craft, along with a fifth-grade teacher who supports both students and colleagues, are being recognized for their efforts.
Mike Brasch and Marie Klemmer are being recognized as Teachers of the Year by the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce. They will be honored at a banquet on June 4.
Brash is a special education teacher at Hayes Freedom High School in Camas, while Klemmer teaches fifth-grade at Gause Elementary School in Washougal.
An eight-year veteran of the Camas School District, Brasch is recognized as a “class act,” whose warm, caring personality strengthens his teaching practice and his relationships with students.
Colleagues describe Brash as a keen but kind observer who always has a smile and a story to share. But what all notice most is his passion for teaching and helping students.
“Mike notices when things are right with students and staff and parents, and he notices when things are off,” said Shelley Ross, counselor. “He is able to connect with students on an unexplainable level.”
According to Hayes Freedom Principal Amy Holmes, “Mike is everything teaching should be about: Keeping the focus on doing what is right and best for kids so they can learn and grow in all kinds of ways. He teaches them skills for successful lives.”
English teacher Stephanie Spencer said his selection for Teacher of the Year “shines on all of us at Hayes Freedom.”
She adds, “He reflects the best parts of our school and I am proud to work next to him.”
As an educator, Brasch underscores all of his lesson with the Hayes Freedom motto: Be Kind, Be Proud, Be Fearless. To that, he adds: “Be genuine. Kids can spot a phony. Be prepared and ready for the day. Kids can tell when you don’t know what you are doing or talking about.”
One of his students, sophomore Blake Schnell, put it simply but concisely: “Mr. Brasch is determined to help us and never gives up on us.”
Brasch began teaching in the Clark County area in 1974. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Camas since 1996.
In 2008, he joined the Camas staff at Dorothy Fox Elementary, and moved to Hayes Freedom High School 2009.
“I am a lucky man to have been allowed to finish my teaching career in Camas at Hayes Freedom High School,” he said.
“We have a terrific leader in Amy Holmes, and a great group of teachers, support staff and kids. We are a team. When we all do a little, a lot gets done,” he said.
He adds that he is always learning.
“After 41 years, I still like getting up and going to work,” Brasch said. “I feel connected to the kids and staff I work with. When you are green you grow, when you are ripe you rot. I am still green.”
Gause Elementary School Principal Rex Larson believes Klemmer was “born to teach.”
“I say that because of the level of success I have seen her have with both young people and adults,” he said. “For the past 14 years, Marie has taught both primary and intermediate grades, and has been recognized as a teacher leader in our district.”
He continued, “To myself and her fellow teaching colleagues, she is the kind of teaching partner you enjoy working with due to her strong ability to collaborate and problem solve her way through almost every instructional challenge she has ever faced.”
Klemmer has worked for the district for 14 years, and is known among her colleagues as someone who helps both students and colleagues learn new skills.
“Marie is respected as a teacher known for implementing innovative instructional techniques that have had an impact on improved student learning,” said Superintendent Dawn Tarzian. “Her strong collaboration skills have helped staff address the many new educational initiatives being implemented across the state.”
She continued, “Marie is committed to her own professional growth, embracing the opportunity to learn how to integrate iPads into her instruction, though she has shared that her students are often the ones teaching her.”
Klemmer is quick to credit her fellow staff members for her success.
“The Gause staff is among the most dedicated team of professionals with a true focus on empowering students through learning,” she said. “I am proud to represent not only this amazing team, but the efforts of all teachers in the Washougal School District.”
Added Larson, “All of the Washougal community should feel proud that she is representing all of the fantastic teachers this district is lucky to have.”