Meet your teacher, Dawn Knight

CIW-COM-Teacher Knight 01.06Grade/subject: Advanced Placement Language and Composition/AP Seminar, American Literature (grade 11); Westfield High School

Number of years teaching: 20

Background/schooling: Bachelor’s degree in secondary education, Indiana University-Bloomington; and master’s degree in journalism, Ball State University.

Why did you become a teacher? I love the energy teenagers have (well, most of the time), and I knew I wanted to work with them in some capacity. Despite being a voracious reader, I hadn’t realized how much I loved literature until IU professors challenged me to think critically about what I was reading. That was when I became passionate about combining my love of English and working with teens into my profession.

What goals do you have for your students? I want my students to leave my classroom being critical thinkers who are ready to tackle college and/or career. I want them to have broadened their view of the world to better understand their place in this global society. I want them to be able to read analytically, problem solve, and effectively communicate their ideas. I would love it if they gain an appreciation for literature along the way.

What do you encourage parents to do at home to help their children strengthen particular skills? I have three teenagers myself, so I can speak as both teacher and parent. Parents of high school students should guide them to seek out solutions rather than finding solutions for them. We should encourage teenagers to meet with their teachers when they have questions or concerns so they can learn to better communicate and advocate for themselves. Often, parents want to step in and rescue our teens and fix problems for them, but sometimes we help them more when we show them how and let them to do it themselves. We should also encourage teenagers to read and write at home– maybe read a book together as a family or discuss current events and issues at dinner. Even when they only grunt and nod, they usually are listening to what we say!

What is your favorite movie? What English teacher doesn’t love “Dead Poet’s Society”? I also love “The Power of One.”

Who is your favorite musician or band? I have eclectic tastes in music, so it’s difficult to pick just one, but Alt-J is a current favorite.

What’s something your students might not know about you? I went hang-gliding in Rio de Janeiro, and I was an NFL writer for the Washington Post online’s “The League” for a couple of years.