Teacher of the Week

After graduating from Illinois State University, Champaign native Katie Lessaris traveled the world, teaching in International Baccalaureate schools in Sweden, the Netherlands and Japan.

Then, she came back home. For the last six years, she’s taught science classes at Franklin STEAM Academy.

This summer, she tried something new, teaching summer school at Dr. Howard Elementary.

“She has worked hard this summer to understand the elementary students she sees in small groups," Dr. Howard principal Samantha Turner said.  "She asks great questions and is not afraid to try new things."

I find my work important because … education, in all its forms, is the future. Learning how to navigate our fast-paced world is a challenge that we encounter every day. Education is the way to develop those skills needed to progress, understand and reach our full potential.

I became a teacher because … I love the sciences, and I wanted to bring the joy of this sometimes “misinterpreted” area of study to the younger generation to help build their understanding of how the world works around us and debunk the myth of science being “scary.”

My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is … This question is challenging for me because I never do the exact same thing from year to year. I am not sure I can pinpoint an actual lesson, but the subject of chemistry is always the most fun to teach here at FSA. Students focus on food chemistry and learn how food impacts the body and how the body functions with different nutritional values. It is applicable to their everyday lives, and they ALWAYS have great questions!

My most fulfilling moments on the job are when … students find joy in what they are doing! Science is about exploration, and that can look different for each student, so when they become excited about a new thing they discovered, or a concept they understand, my heart is happy!

I keep students engaged by … doing and applying to the real world. I have learned over the years that the key to having students understand the nature of science is to bring it to life in what they do/hear/read on a regular basis. This is why my curriculum is forever changing.

Something else I’m passionate about is … food and restaurants! My family has been in the restaurant business for years, and I love it. I enjoy trying new foods, driving miles to find the best of the best, and, of course ... exploring cooking in my own kitchen.

My favorite teacher and subject to study in school was … Ms. Hutchinson at St. Matthew’s. She taught fourth grade and did it with love and laughter. Her smile could brighten your day no matter what your math test score was. Thank you, Ms. Hutchinson … you inspired me!

If I weren’t a teacher, I would be … the proud owner of a small cafe serving up the best Greek and French dishes to represent my heritage. I would do this with none other than the best ... my family.