Lakeland names its teacher of the year

Lakeland High School drama and English teacher Allison Knoll’s classroom may be one of the most crowded in the district. She’s a favorite of students and a favorite among her peers. She was recently selected Lakeland’s Teacher of The Year and is now a candidate for statewide teacher of the year honors, to be announced in the coming months.

Lakeland's Allison Knoll
Lakeland teacher Allison Knoll

“Passion, love of kids, love of teaching, love of community — she has all of those,” said Lakeland Superintendent Brad Murray. “She’s there for the kids.”

The Eastern Washington University graduate teaches five classes during the school day and in the afternoons rehearses for upcoming productions.

“With the exception of my one English class, students are very rarely sitting in their desks listening to me talk — they are up moving and interacting with each other,” Knoll said.

When she isn’t busy building sets, checking lighting or teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird ” (one of her favorites because it’s about embracing differences), the drama teacher supports her students in their other activities.

“I love watching my students participate in sports. Connecting with them outside of the classroom is important,” she said.

During lunchtime, Knoll leaves her door open for students to join her and talk about their day.

“Mrs. Knoll is incredibly inspiring. She’s very helpful. She’s my absolute favorite. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her,” Lakeland High School senior Brooklynn Freer said.

Knoll regularly works weekends and in the mornings and evenings to prepare sets for performances, most recently a production of “A Family Reunion to Die For.”

“It was the most complex set I have ever worked on. It was probably the best set I had ever seen for a high school production,” said high school senior and stage manager Sheleena Braid.

Up next for Knoll is casting for “Little Women.”

“If you aren’t passionate about the subject that you teach, you will have a hard time engaging students,” Knoll said. “Passion is contagious. Compassion is equally important because your students need to feel like they are important, they need to feel like someone cares and understands what they are going through.”