Teacher Feature Q&A: Karen Knudson Wilson welcomes students to Orangewood

By STEPHANIE ELENA PEREZ

Karen Knudson Wilson, is a teacher at Orangewood High School. She teaches American Government and OASIS. OASIS stands for Orientation, Assessment, Study Skills, Insight, Success. Every student who attends Orangewood, starts by taking the OASIS class for three weeks with Wilson and Stephanie Sachs, Foods and OASIS teacher. OASIS is an introduction class where students learn about the school, themselves and each other. For example, Wilson guides students through writing an essay about themselves, such as where they grew up, the school they came from and other topics. Students see Wilson as a caring teacher, and OASIS teachers as the “moms” of new students at Orangewood.

Wilson answer questions about her teaching career, interests, and people who influenced her.

How many years have you been teaching?

Wilson: I have been teaching for 14 years. Prior to teaching I was a school administrator and counselor. 

If you were able to choose a different career path would you still choose to teach or would you choose something else?

I really love being a teacher. Knowing I have a positive impact on young people means so much to me. I’d very likely choose being an educator all over again, even though I had the chance to go to law school.

Have you had a different job besides teaching?

Yes! I started out my career as an elementary school counselor and was then promoted into school administration overseeing counseling and intervention programs for a neighboring school district. When I became a mom I took some time off and returned to education (as a teacher) so I could be on the same schedule as my children.

What do you enjoy about being able to teach students?

I love the day to day fun teaching brings. Everyday is different, and it’s definitely never dull. What I enjoy most about educating students is helping them realize the decisions they make today will impact their future. 

What made you want to teach?  

I grew up with a mom who worked in public education for over 30 years. Seeing the impact she made on kids made me want to have a career with a purpose like that, too.

Did you have role models growing up? 

My parents were amazing role models. My dad served in the military, went to school at night, coached little league and still managed to make time for his family everyday. My mom took care of all of us and always made time to take us to practice, our games and the events with our friends. 

If so how were you influenced by them?

The best thing they did for me and my brothers is give us their time. It really shaped who I became as a person and a parent myself.

If you could, what advice would you give students?

Put down your cell phones. Try not to spend so much time watching everyone else’s life go by that you forget to live your own.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

I love, love, love to travel and have been fortunate enough to visit many places around the world. I’d really like to make it to Bali and Greece someday…places by the water make me very happy. I also like to experience different cultures and foods.

Do you speak another language? If so what language do you speak and if you don’t, what language would you like to learn?

I know a little bit of Spanish and some ASL. I really wish I knew more!

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t teaching? Do you have hobbies, interests?

When I’m not teaching I love to travel, read, cook and spend time with my family.

Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish?

I would really like to move home closer to my parents. I’d also like to live by the beach someday and retire when there’s still plenty of time left to play and enjoy my life.

Is there something you would want people to know about you?

Playing little league baseball growing up and softball in high school led to a wonderful opportunity for me to attend college – I was the first person in my family to graduate.

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