* The kids need Katie

Yesterday I wrote about Katie Mgongolwa’s encounter with her VERY old fifth grade teacher, appropriately named Mrs. Elder, and how Katie wants to be as kind, patient, and adventurous as that loving teacher.  When I was searching for a photo to use, I discovered that Katie has her own blog called There Goes Kate!  I encourage you to read about her amazing adventures in Tanzania with her fiance and baby.  I really can’t do it justice!

My focus remains on Katie’s path as a new teacher.  It’s tough being a new teacher and she hasn’t chosen any walk-in-the-park teaching assignments, which is an oxymoron, anyway.  Plus, she’s a self-described introvert with a young child.  She writes for newspapers.  And somehow she manages to teach.  OK, she’s young, too, which really helps.  What excites me is that Katie considers teaching a calling.  It’s not “I’m out of here in 3 years if I don’t get a salary increase,” even though she acknowledges that teachers are underpaid.   I am convinced that Katie shares her sense of wonder with her students: the open eyes to see and live in the moment, enjoying the everyday delights of youngsters.  She is organized yet flexible.  Most importantly, Katie describes love as the common link between parenting and teaching.   That says it all.  The field of education needs more “Katie’s,” more young, bright people with open hearts.  Let’s hope the system does not transform her into a data cruncher who teaches from test to test.  The kids deserve better.  The kids need Katie.


No, this is not Katie!

* Kindness counts

Katie Mgongolwa, a young  mom and teacher, shared a powerful story about a much-loved fifth grade teacher.  Writing in the Chapel Hill News, Mgongolwa described her mother’s unexpected encounter with Mrs. Elder and wondered how her mother had recognized the teacher after so many years.  After inviting Mrs. Elder to dinner, Mgongolwa wrote, “I understand, now, as a mother, you never forget the people who made your kid feel happy and safe.”  Mrs. Elder (I thought I had the copyright to that pseudonym), taught her students well.  As Mariale Hardiman has written so aptly: “Setting the emotional climate for learning may be the most important task a teacher embarks on each day.”

Mgongolwa has set an admirable goal for herself, to be a kind, adventurous, and patient teacher like Mrs. Elder.  I believe she’s off to a great start and has the potential to be THAT teacher, the one who makes students smile!  More on the delightful Mgongolwa tomorrow!


An old classroom suitable for an elderly teacher?