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Fir-tip lemonade, Medicine bags, and State Teacher of the Year Jerad Koepp

State Senator Sam Hunt joined Superintendent Deb Clemens, School Board Member Graeme Sackrison, and other district leaders to visit with Jerad Koepp, the 2022 Washington State Teacher of the Year.  

Mr. Koepp and the River Ridge High School U.S. History through the Native American Perspectives class served as the host for the day. The lesson: a hands-on exploration of Native American cultures, including the creation of fir-tip lemonade and individual medicine bags. The classroom was full of students excited to learn more about these traditions.  

As Washington’s first Native American teacher of the year, Mr. Koepp continues to expand Native American education opportunities for NTPS students. New curriculum is on the docket for the 2022-23 school year, including two dual-credit courses in Native American Literature and Native American Civics.  

“Native education definitely supports Native American students,” said Mr. Koepp, “but it also benefits students school-wide.”  

That was clear during the visit. Native and non-native students laughed and learned in a warm and inviting room. There was no rush to the door when the final classroom bell rang. Instead, students stayed until the passing time waned. It was clear to all visitors that day: a classroom that Mr. Koepp is in, becomes a special place for students!

Jerad Koepp helping students and staff make medicine bags.
Jerad Koepp works with string, making a medicine bag.
San Hunt holding a jar while talking to students.
Sam Hunt holding a jar during a project and talking to students.