By Noelle H. Lowery
Kim Schulter did not always want to be a teacher. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh in her native Pennsylvania, she wanted to work in a crime laboratory. She studied Chemistry. She enjoyed the focus on science and math, but something was missing.
“Once I sat through hours of lab, it turned out that environment really was not for me. I missed the constant human interaction and connection you find in a classroom,” she explains.
So, she changed course. Her new focus: teaching. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Developmental Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. “I became a teacher because I love seeing that look on a child’s face when they understand a concept for the very first time. It really does look like a light bulb going on,” says Schulter.
Now after two years of teaching in Pittsburgh — working with all grades and needs — Schulter is in her first year of teaching fourth grade at Tommie Barfield Elementary. She is excited: “Elementary students are like enormous sponges. They come to school eager to learn and absorb as much information as they can. I love that students love to learn at this age, and I hope to encourage life-long learning throughout my career.”
Coastal Breeze News sat down with Schulter to begin that learning process.
Q: Tell me about your favorite teacher as a child?
A: As a child, my favorite teacher was my seventh grade Pre-Algebra teacher. I loved how she had the patience and thoroughness to effectively teach an advanced subject for elementary students. Most importantly, she was kind, encouraging, and truly motivated me to love math. She helped me believe in myself, and gave me the confidence to succeed.
Q: What three words best describe your teaching style, and why?
A: Energetic, caring and funny because I want to motivate my students to be excited to learn and care very deeply about their progress and happiness in my room. We always like to crack a few jokes too because if you can’t laugh in the classroom it will be one long year.
Q: What has been your favorite grade to teach thus far and why?
A: Since I haven’t had much experience with my very own room, I would say that I gravitate towards both the younger kids (first grade) and a bit older kids as well (my fourth graders). Each grade level has it’s own difficulties and easier times, just in different aspects of learning (academics, social interactions, independence, etc.)
Q: What was the first thing you noticed about TBE that told you this elementary school may be different from others?
A: I noticed that everyone here was so giving and willing to help me with EVERYTHING. I always feel like I’m bugging people with my millions of questions, but no one has ever been anything less than extraordinary. I feel that I’ve entered a new family, and I’m being well taken care of and welcomed to the fullest.
Q: Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
A: My parents have both been huge influences in my life. They always encouraged me to follow a career path that I will enjoy, and have helped me get to where I am today! Through all of the moving in and out of dorms, lending advice (and money) when I needed it most, and generally always being by my side through thick and thin.
Q: If you could have dinner with any five people in history, who would you have dinner with and why?
A: Abe Lincoln, so I could ask him how he was able to be so brave and why he cared so much about freedom for all. Alexander Graham Bell, so we could talk about how he came up with the invention of the telephone and how genius it was. John Lennon, because I love the Beatles, and I would be interested in what he had to say about being in the group. Einstein, just so I could hear him speak and see if it would be over my head. Columbus, so I could ask him what it’s like to blindly explore new land.
Q: How would you like students and parents to remember you?
A: I would like them to remember me as someone who cared about them as a whole person, not just based on academic achievement. I also want them to leave me with the motivation to want to learn everything, in and outside of school walls.
Q: Who is your favorite teacher from literature and why?
A: My favorite teacher from literature is Miss Honey from Roald Dahl’s Matilda. She’s the sweetest, most loving teacher to her children, and they all adored her. She saw potential in every student, and went above and beyond to make sure they were getting what they needed to achieve.
Q: Ann Frank once said that in spite of everything, she believed people were basically good. Do you agree? Disagree? Why?
A: I do agree that people are basically good, because at the end of the day, I think everyone just wants the best for their family and friends, even though sometimes it may manifest in offensive words or actions. There are a few bad seeds in the world, but as long as you’re living life as a good person, the bad guy will never win.