Be the Change: Beth Geise – Teacher Extraordinaire

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Known as a teacher who goes above and beyond for her students, Hooker Oak Elementary School’s Beth Geise enjoys planning spectacular field trips for her 4th and 5th grade students. When learning about the California Gold Rush, they visited Malakoff Diggings near Nevada City. While studying the solar system, her class visited the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. When they learned about marine biology, she planned a trip to Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center.

“About once a month, the students visit Amber Grove Place, a senior living facility in Chico, to see their ‘Grandbuddies,’” says Amanda Sanchez, whose son, Braydin, is in Beth’s class. “The kids have really built relationships with their Grandbuddies. That’s especially meaningful because some of the residents don’t have any other visitors.”

Most importantly, Amanda says, Beth makes her students feel wanted. “She’s caring and always knows when they need something. I admire how she works with parents to help children meet their goals.”

Beth, who has been at Hooker Oak in Chico for 18 years, teaches a “4th-5th loop,” explains Principal Brian Holderman, so she keeps students for two years in a row. “She’s able to really build relationships with them,” he adds. “She is a very hands-on teacher who has high expectations for her students, but has lots of fun, too.”

“There are just no words to describe what a wonderful teacher Beth is,” says Amanda. “I’m so grateful for her.”

Beth and her students visit Amber Grove Place in Chico to celebrate resident Florence's 108th birthday. "My class and I visit monthly," says Beth. "My 33 fifth-grade students presented Flo with decades posters spanning her life." Photos by Teresa Raczynski, Park Avenue Photography

Beth and her students visit Amber Grove Place in Chico to celebrate resident Florence’s 108th birthday. “My class and I visit monthly,” says Beth. “My 33 fifth-grade students presented Flo with decades posters spanning her life.” Photos by Teresa Raczynski, Park Avenue Photography

So what motivates Beth in her educational career? What’s most rewarding about her job, and what are the challenges? We asked, and this is what she had to say:

What drew you to teaching?

After growing up in Chico, I graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1991 and went to work at a group home in Oakland. There I worked with 6- to 13-year-old boys for almost two years. Even though the job was rewarding and educational, I realized I didn’t want to pursue my masters in psychology or counseling. Instead my then-fiancée and I decided to move to Chico where I grew up so I could get my credential at CSU, Chico. I knew I liked working with children. Honestly I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into!  

What is your current favorite quote or life philosophy?

Treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself. This is of course essential in a classroom, at home and in friendships.

What are you most proud of?

Professionally, I am most proud of the work I do in the community with my students. I like for them to make connections in their community and globally as well. Since I’ve been teaching, I’ve found ways to make the kids see there is more to life than what’s in their immediate surroundings. I have found ways for my classes to reach out, to help, to provide comfort – to provide a service.

Personally I’m really proud of my children, for the positive choices they make, for how they give back to their communities. I’m proud of my husband who balances a busy job of travel with this busy family!  

What do you think is the most important wisdom to share with youth today?

Give kids the opportunities to think of others, to consider their needs, to think democratically in their classroom communities but also in their towns. At our school, I want the students to know our monthly visits to Amber Grove Place are something that the residents there enjoy. Our students’ families love that we go. The kids can see how their visits, and how sharing stories through generations, benefits both sides.

What are the rewards of your job, and what are the struggles?

The rewards are when a student shows academic improvement on something that previously was a struggle. When he or she gets it, I feel pride in their accomplishments. I get energy from those moments. When a student has made improvements socially, I am rewarded. My time at the group home pays off frequently when dealing with more challenging students.

Struggles are, of course, the kids who are extra-challenging behaviorally. Other challenges revolve around the never-ending changes to education … and the question “Do communities value teachers as they once did?”  Thankfully, I am usually too busy in my class planning my next field trip to let those things get me too down.

To contact Beth call Hooker Oak Elementary School in Chico, (530) 891-3119, or email her at bgeise@chicousd.org.

The mission of our Be the Change column is to feature community members from the North State who are actively making a difference in community life. If you would like to nominate someone who is making a difference, please write to pn@northstateparent.com.

Skye Kinkade
About Skye Kinkade

Skye Kinkade is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and mother of four lively children. She enjoys being part of a close-knit community that is so generous and kind in difficult times.

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