Riverview School District

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Riverview Employee Highlight - Elizabeth Wing

by Michael Ward

After literally relocating from one end of the United States to the other - Maine to Washington - Carnation Elementary third grade teacher Elizabeth Wing had a different set of plans for her career when she first arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Starting graduate school, Elizabeth worked in landscape design and spent three years working in the horticulture department at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. While enjoying restoring animal habitats and gardens at the world famous zoo, Elizabeth also got the opportunity to observe the Zoo's education department. She became a guide for behind-the-scenes tours and eventually began teaching classes and camps for visitors of all ages. "I think I was always the most excited person in each tour," she shares.

Her work with children and seeing them learn and observe things, often for the first time, allowed Elizabeth to discover her passion for teaching. When the Zoo had recently opened a new orangutan exhibit, Elizabeth was taking a group of campers through the exhibit on a summer morning. "Seeing the students' enthusiasm and desire to learn naturally through inquiry, as well as their deep connection and passion for conservation education was amazing. These campers were funny, clever and challenged me tremendously that morning. I knew then I was destined to teach and learn from young people."

Now in her sixth year at Carnation Elementary, Elizabeth has taught both third and fourth grade. Her passion with teaching is most realized when she is learning right along with the students. "It is messy, frustrating, and wonderful all at the same time. Being able to guide students toward building stamina, resilience and perseverance is truly exciting!" Seeing her students not worry about getting an answer incorrect and instead seeing them utilize different strategies, skills, and knowledge to develop lifelong learning techniques makes the education process all worthwhile for Elizabeth.

Focusing on classroom communication and helping students find their voice is also a linchpin to Elizabeth Wing's success. When Elizabeth had her students lead a recent classroom meeting, one student snuck over and whispered in her ear, "We have everything under control here. You should get a cup of tea. You need to take good care of yourself!"

It's in the moments like these where Elizabeth feels most inspired as a teacher and a learner. Fostering an environment where everyone laughs, learns, and works together never allows for a dull day in the classroom. "I love laughing with the kids. And I must say, I am envious when these eight- and nine-year olds are more insightful than I am!"