Dixon Middle School recently hosted its first College Day, with Dixon's school halls becoming a...
Some teachers fit schools like a hand to a glove– or, in Timpview Chemistry Teacher Dinali Karunaratne’s case, fits like an enzyme to its inversely-shaped substrate in a lock-and-key model.
Regardless of the analogy, she’s caused a chain reaction leading to deeper learning and a body of students taking on science careers and courses post-graduation.
Coming from a household built by her mother, a teacher, Dinali knew she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Dinali started her teaching career in 2014 when a teacher left in the middle of the year. Here from Sri Lanka while gaining her certification at UVU, she took a chance on Timpview. She had spent some time substitute teaching and liked the students so far, but she felt an immediate bond after creating her classroom. Now, she loves her students and job and has never looked back.
“In teaching, every day is different,” Dinali said. “I could have been a scientist doing lab work– but every day is the same for most scientists. For teachers, every day is unique. Teenagers are busy explorers and always on their feet. And they keep me on my feet. I’m always busy. Teaching makes me feel alive.”
Dinali says every day is different, regardless of repeated content across classes between the various labs, demonstrations, small-group work, and mediated direct instruction. And, because every student’s needs are different, Dinali differentiates through small group work, focused note-taking, and effective use of Canvas for self-paced unit work. Students can review saved materials, collaborate, and retake coursework to receive the grade they want– because, ultimately, it’s all about the learning process for Dinali. She’s built a model for lifelong learning through her class structure, and students achieve under her tutelage.
Regardless of the rep Chemistry gets as a challenging class, Dinali believes any student is capable of mastery. She starts her year by building confidence and steam: student teams take turns feeling items in a black box, then answering questions from their peers to collectively make hypotheses about the box’s contents according to their observations. They move into the Scientific Method from that lesson, and boom– a reaction is set in motion, with terms full of students starting their academic careers in chemistry.
Former students now attending college have returned to her classroom over the years, thanking her for preparing them for college, some taking science-based career routes. This experience, Dinali says, is the greatest reward a teacher can hope for.
Thank you, Dinali Karunaratne.