Teacher returns to Seattle after turning around struggling Bronx school


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News


Posted on September 27, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Chrissy Coxon has come home to Seattle to teach at one of the worst performing schools in the district.  And there's no place she'd rather be. 

"I sought out a school where the achievement gap was pretty much at its worst," she said.

She is determined to bring out the best in her young scholars through love, logic, and constant class participation. 

"There's no 'opt-out' in Ms. Coxon's class," says Coxon. To that end, she has perfected a variety of techniques to keep her students interested and engaged.  "We do claps for attention, shoult-outs and a lot of choral response to really just keep them on their toes."

And she keeps them inspired by studying what Coxon calls boundary breakers. 

"People who work hard to overcome obstacles and help others," said Coxon.

In her two years teaching at a struggling school in the Bronx, Coxon led students to more than two years of reading growth and 91 percent standard mastery in math. 

Coxon is a Stanford grad from Seattle who is now part of West Seattle Elementary's transformation, it's own boundary breaker, of sorts.  It now benefits from a school improvement grant which allowed West Seattle to hire highly effective teachers like Coxen to raise test scores and confidence.

And while that means more resources it also means longer hours and a longer school year, by four days.  But for Chrissy Coxon it means a bigger payoff. 

"To me, the lowest performing school is the place I'd most like to have that impact," she said.

And just a month into the school year, fourth grader Lenah Kareti is already realizing her potential. 

"Usually I feel nervous because I'm learning something new. But Ms. Coxon breaks it down and I don't have to get scared if I get the wrong answer.  And I can't wait to finish to see how I really growed (sic) my brain."

They're growing their brains a lot here.  West Seattle's Chrissie Coxon, helping to take away from of the insecurity and instead take in the possibilities.

In 2009 Coxon received the Sue Lehman Excellence in Teaching award from Teach for America.

All this week, NBC is presenting a special series, "Education Nation," an examination of the nation's public schools. Click here for more information.