Teacher of the month: Katelyn Blanken

Blanken+poses+for+a+picture+with+her+award.+Blanken%2C+an+AP+Psychology+teacher%2C+has+been+at+WCHS+for+13+years.
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Teacher of the month: Katelyn Blanken

Blanken poses for a picture with her award. Blanken, an AP Psychology teacher, has been at WCHS for 13 years.

Blanken poses for a picture with her award. Blanken, an AP Psychology teacher, has been at WCHS for 13 years.

Courtesy of Emily Zhang

Blanken poses for a picture with her award. Blanken, an AP Psychology teacher, has been at WCHS for 13 years.

Courtesy of Emily Zhang

Courtesy of Emily Zhang

Blanken poses for a picture with her award. Blanken, an AP Psychology teacher, has been at WCHS for 13 years.

By Emily Zhang, News Editor

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Empathetic, passionate and energetic- these words perfectly describe WCHS AP Psychology and Physical Education teacher Katelyn Blanken. This year Blanken is teaching three classes of AP Psychology and two classes of Physical Education. 

Blanken was first inspired to become a teacher when she was a high schooler in the IB program at Richard Montgomery High School. 

“I became a teacher because two teachers at RM, both totally different subjects, my world history teacher and my health teacher, were role models that impacted what I really wanted to do in my life,” Blanken said. “What I saw from each of these people, although they couldn’t be more different, is that they had a passion for life and a passion for their career.”

Blanken continued on to double major in psychology and sociology with focuses in education, Spanish and social work at Ursinus College in Philadelphia. After she graduated, she started teaching in MCPS and has now taught at WCHS for 13 years. 

“I had a lot of different areas that I studied; however, they all have a common thread of mental and physical health, and I always knew that I wanted to teach and coach,” Blanken said. 

Her background from what she studied in college influences her teaching now. Teaching psychology and PE together makes a lot of sense because physical health is directly related to mental health. 

“Psychology is something that I have always really enjoyed studying,” Blanken said.  “I took AP Psychology way back when I was in high school myself, and I think it is a great class for high schoolers. There is always something new to learn in psychology. I enjoy teaching PE because I really like teaching freshmen since they have a lot of energy as high school is still so new to them.”

In her free time Blanken is often hiking, playing basketball or just being outside in nature. Her love for her PE classes, as well as her passion towards coaching the WCHS girls basketball team, all stem from this love of being active.

“I sponsored a bunch of different clubs in the past, and I coached five different things in the building last year,” Blanken said. “But after the birth of my son I am only coaching one thing this year, which is girls basketball.”

Her students like her high energy and teaching style. Blanken always makes sure to help students who are struggling to have a breakthrough moment. 

“Her teaching style is engaging because she seems like she is genuinely passionate about the subject,” junior Emily Tong, a student in AP Psychology, said. “Even though I have her first period and everyone is tired, she does a good job of getting the attention of most students. She speaks in a clear voice at a good pace and always leaves room for questions.” 

An immediate sense of community is felt as soon as any student steps into the classroom. Her class is a happy environment where students are engaged and actively learning. 

“She makes the class a super warm place and makes you excited to learn even though it is first period and you are exhausted,” junior Olivia Quinn, an AP Psychology student, said. “I like how she takes the time to explain everything and how she gives fun analogies to remember everything. She does the hardest thing a teacher can do with ease– getting the students excited to learn.”

Blanken is very responsive to how students handle the course content. She keeps in mind how stressful being a teen can be and that every kid could be going through something different everyday, so she tries to be as understanding as she can be while still maintaining the rigor of the course. The primary motivation for her to come to work everyday is helping her students. 

“She is a good teacher because she is responsive to how students handle the content and because of her energy early in the morning she gets through what you need to learn,” Tong said. “It is a pretty productive class period but it is not overwhelming because the lessons are well-paced and spaced out.”

Blanken mentioned that one of her favorite projects is the AP Psychology project where students are encouraged to get out of their comfort zone by breaking the social norms. 

“I think it’s a very cool experience and even though it takes a lot of guts to do it, the reward is that if you set your mind to something and you can do it,” Blanken said. 

She enjoys teaching at WCHS because of the diverse background of both the staff and the students, and she feels like she is able to learn something herself everyday. She also mentioned that the wide variety of courses available to students like AP Psychology gives WCHS students many opportunities to take new classes. 

“Honestly to me it is not about the AP score or your grade in the class, it is that you learn a bit about yourself and others. I think the more that we learn about ourselves and others the more peaceful the world can be,” Blanken said.