Teacher of the Year

Teacher of the Year
Posted on 08/19/2020
Teacher of the Year: Devin Bauer, Lakeside High School

Ask Devin Bauer why he became a special education teacher and he will tell you the reasons are very personal. “I was a student with a learning disability and I understand that learning does not come easy to all students.”

In his case, the challenge was met through hard work; pushing beyond his comfort level and perceived limitations. He was a gifted high school athlete who pushed himself as hard in the classroom as he did on the football field. His approach was simple: Set a goal and exceed it; see a barrier and knock it down.

He wasn’t a good test taker, but he was tenacious and dedicated, never missing an assignment and never being late. It was an approach that worked as a high school and college student and now works as a teacher, motivating others like him to focus on what could be, rather than what is or was.

Seventeen years after his graduation from high school, he is working his magic at his alma mater, as a special education teacher for 30 freshmen and sophomores at Lakeside High School in the Nine Mile Falls School District.

He arrived at the school seven years ago following a successful stint in Pullman Public Schools. Returning to his roots was a high priority. But, upon returning home, he found special education students in Nine Mile were somewhat isolated, only joining the general student population for elective courses.

Bauer immediately advocated a more inclusionary model built on personal relationships with students and close collaboration with general education faculty.

“Upon his arrival, Devin went straight to work knocking down barriers and building relationships,” says Principal Brent Osborn. “He leads staff development training that leverages teaching strategies for struggling learners, particularly in math and English.

“He has shaped math in our entire system, taking students with learning difficulties and having them complete Algebra 2 and go on to college.”
Same story in English. “Our reading intervention class is a staple in our schoolwide inclusion model,” says Bauer. We currently have a 95% success rate of students who complete the 9th grade reading intervention class and go on to pass sophomore English.”

While Bauer is modest, crediting student success to Lakeside’s entire special education team, colleagues say his personal touch is a big part of the team’s success. His trademarks strategies include assistance to every student in determining his/her learning style, cultivating career interests and setting long-term educational and career goals. In short, he assists students in finding their strengths, then building on them.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget his impact outside the classroom. Bauer also is the head football coach at Lakeside and an assistant track coach, positions he relishes for the opportunity to interact with more students. For him, sports provide yet another venue for students to stretch their limits and excel.

Needless to say, Bauer’s enthusiasm and success have made a big impression on his principal and fellow faculty members. In fact, his impact has gone so far beyond the norm that colleagues nominated him for 2021 regional Teacher of the Year honors.

His application packet and recommendations made a similarly large impression on the panel of judges. Over the summer, Bauer was their choice as regional winner, an honor that now places him in the running for state Teacher of the Year honors.

If Bauer were to be described in one word, an apt choice might be “dynamo.” Indeed, wherever he goes, he generates energy and enthusiasm.

Osborn perhaps summed it up best when he said, “I can go on at length about the depth of Devin’s instructional abilities and awareness of where his students are and how to help them succeed. He uses every tool at his disposal. He is an incredible educator, leader, team member and advocate for ALL students, who trust him as their advocate.”

Yes, that perfectly captures the essence of Devin the Dynamo. That is why he is the regional Teacher of the Year. 

Item posted: August 19, 2020