Karen Van Balen teaches fourth grade at Patrick Henry Elementary School in Heidelberg, Germany. She earned a B.A. at Penn State University, and both an M.S. in Business Administration and an M.S. in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.

Karen believes an outstanding teacher is extremely patient, caring, encouraging, and creates a comfortable, positive environment for the students. It's very important that learning is fun and exciting for the students and that they feel successful.

Her assistant principal says, "She works hard to create an environment that is conducive to learning and yet motivates children to be the best they can be." Another administrator states, "Ms. Van Balen is constantly seeking ways to improve educational practices and increase the learning of all students. A colleague notes that, "She consistently develops innovative ways to create a class atmosphere that is positive and conducive to learning."

2007 winner, Karen Van Balen
Karen Van Balen
4th Grade Teacher
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