Ask a teacher what their favorite part of teaching is. The cliché is to say that your favorite part is when a student figures it out and they get it, seeing the lightbulb go on. Jennifer Karlik’s favorite part of teaching may be a cliché but as she said it you could see her eyes light up just at the thought of a student succeeding.
Karlik originally dreamed of being an actress on Broadway, but thankfully she decided her talents could be put to better use as a teacher. 20 years later she is still teaching at Ketchikan High School. Mrs. Campbell, an English teacher at Kayhi, has taught with Karlik for 17 years, but the two have known each other since their youth.
“I’ve been teaching with Mrs. Karlik for 17 years but have been friends since 7th grade. I think she’s an outstanding teacher,” Campbell said. “She’s completely available for her students, she breaks things down in a way that students can understand, and she’s committed to helping them learn and understand the material.”
Being an outstanding teacher is hard enough on its own, but to also be an amazing person is another. I have known Mrs. Karlik since 2008, she was the first person I met when I moved to Ketchikan.
If I were to describe her in one word, it would be happy. Always happy to help, happy to drive me to practice if my parents were busy, and never turned me down if I asked her to make me one of her compound famous grilled-cheese sandwiches.
Mr. Collins has known Mrs. Karlik much longer than I have. He’s been teaching with her for almost 18 years.
“She’s enthusiastic, happy, and bubbly in an intelligent way,” Collins said. “She’s got a ton of enthusiasm and passion for what she’s doing. It’s really fun as a teacher when you have people that are invested in kids and really working hard for kids. It makes other educators jobs also go well. You like to be around positive and happy people.”
Although she may not have known she was sharing, Karlik is not one to turn down someone who needs her help. Cole Maxwell needed a midday snack and she was happy to provide it.
“She used to have 2 bags of fruit snacks in her lunches,” Maxwell said. “Larry Jackson and I used to split them, she didn’t even know she had fruit snacks because Larry and I kept eating them all the time.”
Christopher Salita was adopted by the Karlik family last year. Before the Karlik’s took him in he was staying with friends on a nightly basis and needed a permanent home, Mrs. Karlik has had a big impact on not only Chris’s life, but with all people she encounters.
“Mrs. Karlik is one of the happiest people I know. She’s so good to everyone, she always puts others before herself,” Salita said. “I feel so blessed to have her as a mom, she makes me feel important and loved. She’s the best teacher you could ever have.”