KENT, Wash. — The 2017 Regional Teacher of the Year has a busy schedule. Denisha Saucedo teaches multiple subjects and sports at Kent Elementary School - reading, writing, math, social studies, social and emotion learning, dance, track, and, finally, stomp. We've probably forgotten a few, but just know that Saucedo stays very busy.
Her Fridays begin with STOMP class. The students roll into her classroom, some quiet, some eager, ready to learn the latest dance moves. They're working towards a stomp show that will take place in front of the school.
"It's fun to see them step out of their comfort zone, it's fun to see them grow," Saucedo says. "The first time they step out on the performance floor and they got the round of applause, they go, 'I did that!'."
"My experiences in school weren't the best, and I never actually saw myself in teaching," Saucedo says. "None of my teachers looked like me, and my experiences weren't the best."
As Saucedo explained, students can have ACEs - otherwise known as Adverse Childhood Experiences - that may affect their learning. As a kid, she had several - and many of her teachers didn't understand her experiences.
"Because my mom was a single mom and migrated, that meant I needed help," Saucedo says. "They wanted to save me instead of help me."
While at first Saucedo didn't want to be a teacher, this eventually inspired her to go into education. Although she didn't have the best education experience, she wanted to make sure students now, did.
Saucedo received her Masters in Education Technology Integration from WGU Washington. Kent Elementary School is a one-to-one school, meaning that each student has a laptop, so Saucedo felt that technology integration was an important skill to master.
"WGU was the one that allowed me to still continue everything else that I do," Saucedo says. "Really, it was that program that gave me the opportunity to still be a mom, a wife, a teacher, a coach."
Now, Saucedo can help make an impact on students' lives even more - and to her, that's worth the long hours.
"When you walk through this door, everyone's a learner and everyone's capable," Saucedo says. "Every day I hear, 'I can't'. And I say, 'you can'."