Joshua Brink, music teacher at Desert View Intermediate, was awarded 2021 Coconino County Teacher of the Year at an awards banquet Friday night.
This is Brink’s 11th year as an educator and his third year teaching at Desert View. He’s married to Brittany Brink.
“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to represent Page Unified School District as the 2021 Coconino County Teacher of the Year,” Brink posted to his Facebook page after the event. “PUSD is filled with masterful teachers, many of whom I look up to myself. The work in my classroom is just a small piece of the greater work our teachers, school families and community stakeholders do to enrich our students’ lives. Ahéhee to my family, friends and colleagues for supporting me and my students. I look forward to representing Page well.”
The Teacher of the Year award ceremony was held Friday night in Flagstaff at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
Brink was joined at the awards ceremony by his wife Brittany and son Callan, Desert View Intermediate Principal Mary Stahl, PUSD Superintendent Larry Wallen and PUSD PR Coordinator Steven Law.
“We’re so happy he’s with us at Desert View,” Stahl said. “He’s in it for the kids, 100%, and that attitude really comes across to the kids. The students love him and his class.”
All 509 students at Desert View attend Brink’s music class, which is known throughout the school for its high-energy, participatory atmosphere. When Brink introduces a new concept, such as rhythm, or different note lengths, he first demonstrates the concept – often through clapping or using instruments – and then has his students repeat the action. In Brink’s class, the students are always moving; there are no chairs in his room.
Having his students perform the lesson they’re learning is a great way to incorporate the concept into their memories, said Brink.
That hands-on, interactive approach to learning was difficult to reproduce in last year’s virtual classrooms. But Brink still found ways to keep his students engaged and thinking about music. One of the assignments he gave his students during first semester was to record themselves telling him what music meant to them and their family. He did this in conjunction with a unit on culture. He then uploaded the recordings to his Flipgrid account and shared them for his class to see.
Stahl nominated Brink for Teacher of the Year because of the extra work he did at the beginning of last year, when he helped the Desert View teachers, students and parents make the switch to virtual learning, which was new, strange and filled with daily challenges.
At the beginning of the year when teachers, students and parents were learning how to use Chromebooks, Google Classrooms and other technologies, Brink was asked to serve as Desert View’s technology coach.
And he did an amazing job, said Stahl. “He shared with us how to use Flipgrid, Screencastify and other tools to enhance student engagement in a virtual setting. He has made the virtual teaching environment accessible to all of our teachers.”
Brink was one of three finalists for Teacher of the Year, along with Susan Burdick, a teacher from John Q. Thomas Elementary School in Flagstaff, and Trina Siegfried, a teacher from Williams Elementary/Middle School in Williams.
Other educators from Coconino County were also honored at Friday’s award ceremony. Sheryl Wells, a teacher at W.F. Killip Elementary School, was awarded STEM Teacher of the Year. Jessica Spink, a Spanish teacher from Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff, was named Coconino County Rookie Teacher of the Year.
Oscar Manuel Landa Samano, a student from Coconino High School, was recognized at the STEM Student of the Year.
The Teacher of the Year award comes with several prizes, including a one-year lease of brand new Toyota, courtesy of Findlay Toyota, $1,000 cash from Findlay Toyota, $2,000 cash, two tickets to Theatrikos, and one three-credit course from Coconino County Community College.