Guitar-playing teacher sparks creativity

by TOMOYA SHIMURA

As a college student, Christopher Kernutt was in search of a career that would help others. He found his calling in teaching. After seven years on the job, the 33-year-old hasn’t lost a bit of that passion.

Kernutt, a sixth-grade teacher at Canyon View Elementary, is hungry to improve and not afraid to innovate.

For example, he has embraced Cognitively Guided Instruction, which encourages students to come up with their own ways to solve math problems. He has implemented restorative practices, which provide opportunities for students to share their feelings and build relationships with their peers.

His students play a learning game called Breakout EDU, in which they use teamwork and critical thinking to solve challenging puzzles.

He even keeps his acoustic guitar, banjo and ukulele in the classroom and plays his own songs for his students to sing along.

Kernutt shared with the Standard why he loves to teach.

What gets you up in the morning?

The students. Every day, I greet them outside and I get to see their bright shiny faces. We get to journey together each day, exploring our amazing world and the forces that drive it. Their youthful curiosity makes every day an Incredible experience.

What motivates you to keep on learning and innovating?

To me, it just makes a lot of sense. When we are constantly looking to get better and to improve upon ourselves, we know that our students are going to learn more effectively. They are going to be inspired in greater ways.

How do you expect your students to benefit from these innovative approaches?

These approaches are ultimately trying to encourage students to see themselves as a student with choices and power. Sometimes, it means we’ll make the wrong choice, but we still learn. I want students to know they are more than the mistakes they make or the test scores they earn. They can make a difference in the world.

What are your thoughts on the Irvine community?

The Irvine community is amazing.

They are a very diverse group of people from different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. But they all come together around education. They give the teachers the support they need and the students the support they need to be successful. You couldn’t ask for more.