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The Chicago Bulls and Kia Motors will be honoring Chicago Public School (CPS) Elementary School teachers for their hard work and dedication in the classroom through the "Kia Educator of the Month" program. We are calling on all students, fellow teachers and/or administrators from CPS elementary schools to nominate an educator by following instructions below:

Download and email to hthomas@bulls.com or mail to:

Kia Educator of the Month Program, Chicago Bulls
ATTN: Hillary Thomas
1901 West Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60612

From November 2012 through April 2013, one nominee will be selected per month as our Kia Educator of the Month. Nominators will be asked to fill out an application and write a 250 word essay explaining why they are nominating the educator for the program. Monthly winners will receive the following items:

  • Two tickets to a pre-determined Bulls home game, where the winner will be honored during a pregame ceremony
  • Check presentation for $1,000 towards teacher classroom use
  • An official Kia Educator of the Month Award
  • Special teacher profile on bulls.com

See official contest rules

Kia Educator of the Month - March 2013

Anna Baskin-Tines, Frances Scott Key, 5-8th grade teacher

Kia Educator of the Month

How long have you been teaching? What grade do you teach?

I have been teaching for 18 ½ years at Francis Scott Key Elementary School (Key) in the Austin North Lawndale Network. I currently teach Writing to middle school students. I began my career as a 5th grade teacher. Additionally I’ve been a Literacy Coach and Computer teacher.

I am also a proud alumna of Key which I attended from Kindergarten thru 5th grade.

How did you decide you wanted to be a teacher? Are there any particular teachers who have influenced you in the past?

I come from a family of educators. Two of my aunts are teachers and my grandmother was a teacher’s assistant. Watching these educators instilled in me a desire to want to help others learn.

I have been blessed to have several teachers influence me some during my time as a student and others professionally. Special shout outs to Mrs. Denise Weimann (Rufus M. Hitch School), Mr. John Lewis (Lane Tech High School), & Mrs. Sandra Banger (Key).

I had the closest bond with my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Betsy Walker. She made me feel so special that I told myself that when I became a teacher I would be just like her. She inspired me to always do my best. Mrs. Walker could do everything – she sang and played the piano for us, read us stories where the characters seem to jump out of the book, and she genuinely cared for us. She always told us we could accomplish anything we wanted if we set our minds to it and worked for it. I was so proud when I was selected to spend the weekend at her house with a group of my classmates.

Describe your favorite teaching memory or experience.

One of my favorite teaching memories involves math. My 5th graders were struggling with converting decimals into fractions. This was during the time that the Bulls were in the middle of their second three-peat. My entire classroom and I were avid fans. I used their love of basketball to help them learn. We would check the Bulls standings daily in my class. The team rankings were represented in decimals to the thousandths place I taught my students how to convert those decimals into fractions and basketball math was born. My students were having so much fun but they were also learning. After a while the students used to beg me to do basketball math.

How do teachers/educators impact the lives of their students? What do you hope that you personally can do to have a positive impact on the students you work with?

Teachers impact students in many profound ways. We not only teach our content but we also partner with their parents to raise positive, productive members of society. We help students to realize that with an education and strong work ethic that they can control who they are and what they can become. We in the teaching community all strive to use our influence to impact the lives of students in a positive way. Teachers can and do make a difference.

When I encounter my students I ALWAYS want to be a source of light for them. To light up the dark places in their lives and help show them the positive person they can be with their God given talents. I have been at Key for my entire career and that has been intentional. I always share with the students that I too am a product of the Austin community and a very proud alumna of Key. I share with them that I came from a single family home and that if I can graduate from college I expect nothing less from them. I’ve told them it won’t be easy but anything worth having is worth the work. When my students think about their time with me I want them to smile and remember that I told them to love themselves enough to always do their best – set goals and work towards them.

Describe how your professional role has made an impact thus far. What goals, if any, have you set in an effort to make even more of a difference in the future?

I made the greatest professional impact in my past role as a literacy coach. I served in this capacity from 2002 thru 2012. It was my job to help teachers improve their craft by providing professional development in the area of literacy. I can’t even tell you how much my own teaching improved as a result of interacting with those fantastic teachers and dynamic administrators. Our combined efforts moved Key from a Level 3 school on probation to a Level 2 school off probation. We continue to pursue Level 1 status and are solidly trending in that direction.

If your students could end each school year having learned only one thing, what would you want that to be?

I want my students to know that getting an education is valuable. Having an education and strong work ethic can open many doors of opportunity. Growing up in the Austin community can be challenging. Although it may be difficult, they can succeed. Their zip code doesn’t define them – they do. In the words of Malcolm X – “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

What was your reaction when you learned that Mrs. Giannoulis-King nominated you, and then when you were selected as the Kia Educator of the Month?

I was very humbled when my principal, Mrs. Giannoulis-King, told me that she had nominated me for this great honor. I was grateful for her efforts to acknowledge me. When she told me I had won I was speechless. To be honest, I never thought I’d win given the quality of teachers in the Chicago Public School System. Being speechless was a first as I’ve never had a problem with words.

As Teacher of the Month, how will you spend your $1,000 award money?

I will spend the award money on much needed supplies – student journals, pens, pencils, and books for my classroom library.

Educator of the Month - February 2013

Educator of the Month - January 2013

Educator of the Month - December 2012

Educator of the Month - November 2012