Student Nomination Story

“Teachable moments are my favorite part about what I do.” This is a quote from one of the first emails I received from Mr. Batke at the start of my son’s 6th grade journey in middle school this year. Mr. Batke has a genuine interest in, and an unwavering excitement for, each of his students’ success as a member of his self-contained classroom and a member of the Kyrene Centennial Middle School (CMS) student body as a whole. This is who Mr. Batke was before this unprecedented time in our lives and it will be who he is when we resume under our new normal. Whether it be through email or now via Zoom meetings, Mr. Batke wants to know what he can do to make students’ and parents’ lives easier. He wants to know what he is doing that he can perhaps improve upon and goes above and beyond what is necessary to ensure his students are feeling connected. Earlier this school year, in October, Centennial had their first all School dance and I wanted more than anything for my son to attend – he LOVES music and has some pretty cool dance moves. But, it is a new experience and having development delays, this meant navigating new waters for me. I reached out to Mr. Batke with different scenarios on what attendance might look like for my son and, without hesitation, Mr. Batke offered to chaperone and make sure the whole class knew they were welcomed and would have a safe space to enjoy the all-school event. Later in the semester, when a second scheduled dance at the school was cancelled, Mr. Batke opened up his room for a short time after school for those who wanted to have “hang-out” time and allow for some peer socialization. The social growth my son has shown is beyond anything I could ask for and I give Mr. Batke full credit for that! Mr. Batke tirelessly does everything he can to ensure his students have equal access to the “extras” available at school. Being a huge advocate for “inclusion”, Mr. Batke worked with staff and administration when my son showed an unforeseen interest in auditioning for the school play and joining Track and Field. Again, uncharted waters for us both and, although my son did not participate in either event, the groundwork has been laid to prepare for 7th grade when my son will know he has options and we can fully integrate himself at Centennial – I thank you Mr. Batke! I am absolutely positive that I don’t know half of what Mr. Batke is doing within the classroom and how he is positively affecting the lives of other families and students, but I know he has a genuine desire to make a difference. In a combined effort with another Resource teacher at CMS, Mr. Batke held a campus-wide awareness day in March for National “Spread the Word to End the Word Day” to not only give those with disabilities the opportunity to shine their own light but to impact all of Centennial’s “students’ worldview, strengthen empathy, and foster real peer bonds.” Mr. Batke is truly dedicated to creating a better world for all people with disabilities and I will be forever grateful for the work he is doing and how he is positively affecting my son and fostering his growth as a member of the community.

Brenden Baxter

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.