Kristine Fowler: 5-Time Honoree

If you’ve spent any time in Kristine Fowler’s 3rd grade classroom, you know that you’ve experienced teaching greatness.  Students intently listen to Ms. Fowler’s every word as the class transitions from online coding to engineering structures.  They are engaged, collaborative, and excited to learn.  Yet, Ms. Fowler was not always a teacher.

Kristine grew up in Millbrae and studied Linguistics at UC Berkeley.  She then went on to work in business, but ultimately didn’t find her work to be fulfilling.  Kristine found herself “doing lots to make up for lack of job satisfaction,” such as volunteering in after school programs and decided that she needed to make a switch.  Kristine then got her graduate degree in Education from Mills College and moved into the classroom.

The career change is one where Kristine has truly thrived.  She has now taught for 18 years in Berkeley schools, first at John Muir Elementary and now at Berkeley Arts Magnet, teaching both 2nd and 3rd grade.  Kristine loves that her “work really matters.” Her heart breaks thinking that some kids believe school isn’t for them and works incredibly hard to ensure that each of her students is enabled to succeed in school.  This shows in her classroom where students are given jobs to help them engage with the work.

Kristine encourages her students to understand and engage with the world around them and to think about how they are part of the bigger picture.  For example, when a crane fly flew into the classroom, she encouraged her students to ask why it may have entered and how they might help it get outside safely.  This critical engagement with the outside world builds a foundation for students to be curious—a hallmark of scientific thinking.

Kristine loves doing science because children can learn from each other, particularly through each other’s mistakes.  Learning from mistakes builds a solid foundation for students to feel safe enough to try new things.  With this grounding philosophy, students feel at home in Ms. Fowler’s class, and let their curiosity shine through, sparking thoughtful discussion.  Some of Kristine’s favorite science activities include plant dissections, designing own experiments, and observing natural phenomena.

In addition to teaching her students valuable life lessons, Kristine has learned from her students as well.  She says that her kids have taught her not to be a perfectionist, noting that every child has their own way of getting to the same goal.  Her recognition of each student’s unique learning style is what makes Ms. Fowler a truly special teacher.

In her spare time, Kristine likes to ride horses and go on hikes.  Some of her favorite hikes are in the North Bay including Tennessee Valley in Marin and Alamere Falls in Bolinas.  At the end of this school year, Kristine will retire from classroom teaching, but she is excited to stay involved in education through before or after school programs.  We thank Kristine for her incredible investment in the next generation of thinkers, makers, problem solvers, and leaders and are excited to see what she does next!