Teacher feature: Engelbrecht brings fresh perspective

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By Katherine Wang


Along with the advent of the 2014-2015 school year arrived a wave of fresh faces, not just among the student body, but also the staff. Last year, retirees of Los Alamos High School left the district and the school board wondering who would fill the empty slots. However, their uncertainty soon transformed into firm decision when capable and qualified applicants arrived. Christine Engelbrecht, a comparative world literature teacher, is one out of the group of recently hired individuals. 

Engelbrecht attended high school at Norman North High School in Oklahoma. 

She received an associate’s degree in liberal studies from Oklahoma City community college in liberal arts and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma in language arts education. 

Engelbrecht graduated Magna Cum Laude with highest honors. 

Along with her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, she holds a master’s degree in reading education from Vanderbilt University, George Peabody College. 

In 2010, she attended Oxford University as an exchange student specializing in Shakespeare at Brasenose College. 

Engelbrecht’s desire to study in the field of education began during her childhood, which can help explain why she is an avid reader and proponent of literature.

“In ninth grade, I had a teacher named Claudia Swisher who inspired my love of reading. My godmother, Pamela Boles, also tutored me in reading as a child, inspiring me to get a reading specialist certification. And I’ve always loved learning. It seemed like a no brainer.” 

Today, education is Engelbrecht’s “number one priority.”

She not only holds it in high regards herself, but also expects the same from her students. This year Engelbrecht hopes to instill her students with a passion for reading.

“I believe that every child is a reader, even the ones that don’t know it yet.”

She wants to accomplish several other goals as well, such as organizational practices and meaningful discussion involving opinion and life events.

Whatever objectives she has though, she always makes sure to learn whatever she can in the process and connect with her students.

“It’s important to be a good listener almost as much as it is important to be a good teacher. If my ears aren’t open, I miss all of the wonderful things that my students can teach me,” she said. “That’s really the most rewarding part of this classroom.”

Behind the scenes of her classroom, Engelbrecht has a system of her own that helps her teach the many different types of learners she sees on a daily basis. Organization and innovation play key roles in the environment adaptation process.

“I always try to have a weekly agenda on one side of the room so that students may see what to expect in the week to come or reflect on what they’ve done earlier in the week. To assist my auditory learners, I try to read the instructions to them for most assignments. Kinesthetically, students benefit from projects and I try to do as many as I can.”

In a recent interview, Engelbrecht opened up about a special type of project she labels as a “multi-genre research project” or MGRP.

“[MGRPs] play on the traditional research project which allows students to display their research in a variety of genres. I believe this is more accessible and interesting for my students, while also teaching them to complete an annotated bibliography, reinforcing Modern Language Association citation standards, and accessing the highest level of learning on Bloom’s taxonomy.”

Bloom’s taxonomy is named after Benjamin Bloom who chaired the committee of educators that devised the taxonomy. The concept refers to a classification of the different learning objectives that educators set for students.

Overall, Engelbrecht is looking forward to the upcoming school year, especially what she describes as an excellent school system.

Most importantly Engelbrecht hopes to make Los Alamos her permanent home, which is great news for present and future students at the high school.