Educator Spotlight: Marnie Kazarian Olson
Family enhances teaching career for health and P.E. educator in Washington
This story is part of a weekly series that celebrates outstanding teachers in our Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
When Marnie Kazarian Olson was a child, she and her big sister would go to work with their dad.
He was an English professor at Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu, a young single father teaching night classes in beautifully old brick buildings filled with tradition and bad lighting and echoes.
Marnie would sit in the way back, quiet and respectful of all the grown-ups among her, and she would admire her dad up front.
“For the longest time actually, I didn’t even know he was a teacher,” says Marnie, who coaches physical education in Bellevue, Washington, today. “I remember looking at all of these young adults in the room, and it felt like everyone was having such a good time. We watched a lot of Seinfeld growing up, so when I saw my dad up there with this dark brick background, making people really happy, I honestly thought he was a comedian.
“So I thought, ‘Ok, this looks like a barrel of fun. I want to do this!’ Obviously, as I got older, it was like, ‘Oh, he’s a teacher. I guess that’ll do, too.”
She’s making people smile anyway. As a health and P.E. teacher, Marnie is jovial to be around. She’s animated and talks really fast and radiates energy with her positive attitude alone. Her kids are drawn to her because she sees her work as far more than a passing grade and instead thoughtfully encourages her students to believe in themselves, take risks and innovate and to support one another in their endeavors. And, she says she gets it from her dad.
“He had all these dad-isms he used to tell us all the time,” Marnie says. “If I would say, ‘Oh, I’ll get to that tomorrow,’ he’d respond right away with, ‘Well, what is today? Yesterday’s tomorrow?’ I just feel like a lot of the things he taught me as a child, I now teach to my students today, because they’re my kids!
“I say to all 650 of them all the time, ‘Every single one of you – I know your name, I know your brothers and sisters, and I want you to know that I’m not just your P.E. teacher. I am here as somebody you should be able to go to if you need help,’ and I think that’s something my dad taught me. He showed me to not just be an effective educator, but to be a really empathetic and thoughtful educator, too.”