Dinah Nguyen, Fruit Valley, teacher, elementary

Dinah Nguyen

Dinah Nguyen, a fourth-grade teacher at Fruit Valley Community Learning Center, is one of 24 educators named 2017 Teachers of the Week by the Washington State Employees Credit Union.

After completing her student-teaching at Fruit Valley, Nguyen has taught there for the past two school years. Along with fellow staff members Anthony Kay, Sondra Pamiroyan and Steve Avery, Nguyen also coached the school’s soccer and basketball teams to victory in regional tournaments offered in partnership with the Vancouver Police Activities League and Clark College.

“Tying that in with academics has been beneficial for the kids,” said Nguyen, herself a former basketball and soccer player. All student-athletes sign a contract that they will maintain good attendance, turn in their assignments and meet behavioral expectations.

However, sports aren’t the only area in which she influences students. “They frequently seek her out when they are needing an adult to talk with, share celebrations or process making positive choices. She is often found interacting with students of all ages in the halls, in the cafeteria and around the school even if the students have no direct connection to her class or coaching. Dinah helps to make our school a safe and inviting place for all students,” said Principal Matthew Fechter.

Kids also praise Nguyen. “She made me a better athlete by coaching me and wanting me to improve. She made me a better person because she always helps me with every problem I have trouble with. She is humble, she is kind, she is cool,” said Zhair Hernandez.

For earning Teacher of the Week status, Nguyen will receive two Seattle Mariners tickets, a $500 classroom grant and on-air recognition during selected Mariners radio broadcasts for a week.

Athletics = attendance

During the 2016-17 school year, students who participated in Fruit Valley’s after-school sports had an approximately 50 percent better attendance rate than the school’s overall attendance rate. Research shows that regular attendance is vital to success in school, even as early as kindergarten.