Karen Coulombe: 2023 CERTIFIED Educator of the Year

Each year, we are so excited to recognize one of our customers as our CERTIFIED Educator of the Year as part of our annual CERTIFIED Educator Conference. We work with so many incredible educators, all of whom deserve recognition for their dedication and efforts. We're pleased to announce that Karen Coulombe is our 2023 CERTIFIED Educator of the Year!

Karen Coulombe is a career and technical education (CTE) teacher at Lake Stevens High School in Washington state. Karen teaches both computer applications and computer science to first-year high school students in Lake Stevens. She is also a robotics advisor for the largest VRC Robotics team in Washington. Before becoming a teacher, Karen worked for more than a decade as a licensed avionics technician and airframe and powerplant mechanic for the U.S. Air Force, DynCorp Aerospace, and the Boeing Company. She was also selected for special assignments involving Air Force One and the B2 stealth bomber.

Throughout her career, Karen has been a passionate believer in continuing education and giving back to her community. She has participated in the U.S. Naval Academy’s SET SAIL, Certiport’s National CERTIFIED Conference, STEM Guitars, Space Camp for Educators, the Washington Alliance for Better Schools STEM Externship, and multiple nanotechnology conferences. Karen also serves on the teacher advisory board for the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, and as a member of two technical advisory committees.

Known for her industry expertise and no-nonsense approach in the classroom, Karen adeptly helps her students develop skills to succeed in the workforce. She is beloved by her students both past and present. “I’ve learned so much from her, and I don’t think I would’ve learned this much anywhere else,” said former student Damian Frey. Current student Alexis Cheney agrees, “She’s always there next to us, whether we’re testing or studying. She’s supporting us, reminding us that we can accomplish anything.”

Karen’s dedication helped her connect with her administration and community professionals as well. Dr. Mike Snow, Executive Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning, Lake Stevens School District said, “Karen is never satisfied with what is presented to her. She’s always looking to make things better. She truly does things for her kids. Every school needs a bunch of Karen Coulombes.” Bill Hole, Lake Stevens resident and President, US Licensing Group, agrees. “I think the most important thing that Karen brings to the table is her passion. She genuinely has an interest in helping students make the most out of their time in her classroom, whether it’s developing a resumé or earning as many Microsoft certifications as possible.”

Ms. Coulombe delivered a workshop session at CERTIFIED 2023 titled, “Get MORE Value from Your Certification Investments.” In the workshop she explored ways educators and administrators can use certifications to meet a wider range of student needs and celebrate students’ learning and achievements.

“Our team was privileged to go to Washington and meet with Karen, her students, and the administrators from her school and state. Each person we talked to had been touched and empowered by Karen and her consistent dedication and mentorship,” said Craig Bushman, General Manager, Certiport. “She’s an experienced educator who is constantly working to improve her community. Karen absolutely deserves this award.”

Watch a video highlighting Karen here. You can also hear about Karen’s passion for teaching and technology on the CERTIFIED Educator Podcast here.