2021 Educator of the YearApr 09, 2021 09:52AM ● By The Hood Magazine
When she was in her thirties, Sara Gohman was working as a pharmacy technician and asking herself, “What do I really want to be when I grow up?”
The mom of three coached youth fast-pitch softball and knew she loved working with kids and families, so she decided to go back to school for teaching.
Her fifth-grade students at Garfield Elementary are so glad that she did.
Sara is the 2021 Educator of the Year because of the relationships she’s built with her students and their families that extend beyond classroom hours.
She said, “I learned my first year teaching very quickly that if you don’t have a relationship with the children and their families, you’re not going to get too far. And, the better the relationship, the more they’re going to learn.”
It’s not unusual for Sara to reach out to her students in the summer to see how they’re doing or communicate with families on nights and weekends.
“Family is everything to me, and my students are like my family. So even when I’m getting texts and phone calls from them outside of school, it’s not a bother to me at all. It’s a perk of what I do.”
Sara has taught at Garfield for all six years of her teaching career and said she hopes to be there forever.
“I love our families here and our leadership. Our principal, Kristin Skogstad, is amazing. She allows me to be the teacher I am best at being, so I can focus on those relationships first and then the teaching piece.”
Along with her fellow teachers and leadership at Garfield, Sara gives a lot of credit to her grandmother, parents, husband, and kids.
“Without them, I would not be able to be the teacher that I am. They are so helpful, supportive, and understanding of what it takes to be involved in a classroom in this way.”
Photo caption for main photo: Sara Gohman, 2021 Educator of the Year, stands with students who nominated her for the award and her fifth-grade class at Garfield Elementary.
Sara’s Educator of the Year Nomination
Sara is our ANGEL! My daughter, Draya, was in the 4th grade in 2017 at Garfield. We had gone through some tough times as a family, and she began acting out terribly. In the summer of 2017, Sara reached out to me and asked to be Draya's teacher for that upcoming year.
We lived close to the school, so before the year began, Sara started building a relationship with my daughter by having her come to the school to help decorate the classroom, etc. During Draya's 4th grade year, she was suspended over 20 times and received over 50 office referrals, and I was slowly losing my daughter to depression. Little did I know what Sara had in store for us!
Sara was able to connect with my daughter in a way the counselors and psychologists could not. I was starting to see my baby again. She excelled in all her testing and did not receive one office referral or suspension.
I am a single parent, and Christmas time was approaching. Sara went above and beyond to make sure we had the best Christmas! She showed up with gifts, food, clothing, and gift cards! All I could do was cry because without her, we would not have had anything. She always made sure we had food even before and after Christmas.
I remember going to Draya's first conference of the year. I was so nervous because the year prior conferences were not the best and full of counselors, tier two teachers, principals, and school psychologists. My daughter was doing so well, and the only reason there were other teachers in the room was to tell me how well Draya was doing! We all agreed that it was because of Sara. I hugged her and cried happy tears for the first time in a long time.
Sara became a member of our family. She shows up for us whenever and wherever. In fact, when Draya started 6th grade, Sara would go to her middle school once a week to check in on her and make sure she was staying on track. We were lucky enough to have Sara for the second year in a row because I have another daughter a year younger!
Thanks to Sara, I was in a much better place financially and mentally.
I was able to witness all Sara does for all her families! She makes sure all her kids have snow gear and food. I know quite a bit of families who have been blessed with Sara's kindness and also consider her their angel.
Draya is now in 7th grade, and Kamya is in 6th. Sara is a constant in our life. She shows up for my kids, comes to their sporting activities, and always checks on us! I do not know where we would be had Sara not come into our lives. We were at our lowest point, and a teacher who had no obligation toward us picked not only my children but me up off the ground and put us back on our feet. Without a shadow of a doubt, I can honestly say I wouldn't be here today without her. She saved me. She saved my daughters. She saves children and their families every day with no judgment.
Draya is a straight-A student now and made A team for both basketball and volleyball this year. Sara will forever be a part of our lives, and everyone deserves to know how incredible this woman is. I know she doesn't care about the fancy awards, but as I sit here with tears in my eyes and think back to the day we met Sara and where our journey took us, there's not one person I know that deserves more praise than her. Every student, every family, deserves a Mrs.Gohman! ~ Samantha Swier, mom to Draya and Kamya