Class Acts: A Q&A With Mike Doornewaard

Mandy Walsh nominated Mike Doornewaard for Class Acts. Walsh said that he is an amazing teacher who creates a positive, rewarding class environment for children. He always has a smile and takes the time to get to know the students. Walsh said Doornewaard motivated her son, Tanner, and encouraged him to be a good student.

Name: Mike Doornewaard

Age: 34

Hometown: Modesto

Occupation: Third-grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary

Family: Wife, Sarah Doornewaard, teaches first grade at John Muir Elementary; son, Isaac, 9 months.

Background: Born and raised in Modesto; graduated from Davis High School; received bachelor's degree and teaching credential from California State University, Stanislaus.

Teaching experience: Has taught for 11 years, four years at Burbank Elementary and seven years at Lakewood Elementary.

Why did you get into teaching? I had a high school history teacher make a positive impact on my attitude toward school. I then realized that teaching was my calling and wanted to try to have the same impact on my own students.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I love watching my students get excited about learning new things and making learning fun and interesting.

What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is reaching all of the different needs and abilities that are in my classroom.

Favorite teaching tool or activity in the classroom: Humor! I use lots of humor in class to make my students feel good about school and to help them stay relaxed throughout the day.

Advice for new teachers: You should try to leave as much of the bad politics as you can outside the classroom door, and do what you think is right for your students.

Advice for students: Never get discouraged, always give your best, and learn to love reading.

Advice for parents: Be involved with your child's school and learning. You really are the key to your child's success.

Future plans: Continue doing what I love to do: teach!

How do you reach students not interested in school? I try to build their confidence and motivate them by focusing on the things they do well.

What would surprise people about your job? People would be surprised at the amount of time teachers spend working outside the school day, and the amount of bad political policies hurting public education.

What did you do on your summer vacation? I spent my summer playing with my 9-month-old son, Isaac, and going fly-fishing.


"Class Acts" is a weekly spotlight on outstanding teachers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and foothills. If you would like to nominate someone, please send his or her name and contact information, along with your name, phone number and the reason for the nomination, to jhanks@modbee.com.