Tina Nakae has been teaching in rural Washington for 25 years; engaging and building learning communities for students in a variety of ways. Tina teaches middle school math, but contributes to the high school math curriculum as an applied math teacher at Trout Lake School. She has also started many programs at the school. She leads a homework club four mornings a week called Breakfast Club and an evening study group once a week. Any student K-12 grade can show up to these times. She builds solid relationships with a variety of students, especially those students who may be struggling. Tina was instrumental in starting the ALTA program at Trout Lake. ALTA stands for “Achievement Leads to Advancement,” a class for all 7th and 8th grade students that helps them to set goals and develop organization and task-analysis skills.

Tina’s greatest strengths lie in her ability to be compassionate and collaborative. At Trout Lake School the Hispanic population has increased over the last ten years. In order to better communicate with parents of these students she voluntarily began to take Spanish classes. Many of her students who have moved on to other schools or graduated continue to come back and visit Tina and express their appreciation. During staff meetings she advocates for her positions, but can also be the voice of reason during a discussion. Tina is consistently putting the needs of her students in the forefront of conversations. Other staff respect her views because she leads by example and is the first to volunteer to try and make things better for the school. She has willingly coached, advised, and mentored in service to the school and the Trout Lake community.


Our Teacher Feature highlights the outstanding work of those teachers in the southwest Washington region who were nominated for the honor of Teacher of the Year.