All Paths Lead back to the Classroom
- Kate Klein
Graduating from Beloit without an Education degree, Kate’00, an Interdisciplinary major, took an alternative route to becoming a teacher. Taking a year after Beloit to work at a Saturn car dealership, she eventually made the decision to apply for a volunteer position at a private school. That private school turned Kate down as a volunteer, but instead offered her full time position as a math and english teacher. The experience and knowledge that Kate gained during her time at Beloit was strong enough to show the private schools her ability and expertise in her own field. During the teaching demonstration, Kate was able to convey how excellent she was at understanding how to work and communicate with students. Taking up the offer, Kate began her first experience in teaching, never leaving the field after that.
Kate eventually earned her teaching certificate and Masters degree from Goddard College in Vermont, and she later earned her National Board Teaching Certification honor in high school mathematics.
Starting her involvement with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as a teacher, Kate was seen as a leader in the classroom and within her schools. Her first experience out of the classroom was to provide professional learning in math for 37 schools. She then applied the continuous improvement with 4 networks within CPS. Kate briefly left CPS when she was recruited to be a principal at a Chicago private high school. However, the siren song of CPS was too strong and she returned after 2 years. For people who are interested in working with CPS, Kate explains that the staff and teachers truly are the best of the best and are making incredible gains with all students. CPS is a powerful place to work and she was honored to do hard work with some of the smartest educators out there.
To Kate, education is way more than being an expert in a field. It’s all about being able to deeply listen and have extreme patience to teach and reteach in a variety of ways in order to reach your students. For people who aspire to become a teacher, Kate’s advice is to be in a place of open heart and open ears. This means to allow yourself to be a true learner and to listen to your mentor, even when they seem crazy and “old school.” There is much to learn within a classroom and the teacher can help guide you.
During her time at Beloit College Kate received a lot of support from her mentors, professor Ranjan Roy and professor Art Robson. She relied on them daily for inspiration and guidance on all levels. But outside of college, Kate had her network of Beloit alums to help her career. Most notably are her husband, Tom Shanabruch (who is not in education but understands people and managing like no other) and Andy Davis, who has been an angel on her shoulder guiding her in her professional career.
If you are interested in education, but do not have an education degree, here is some advice from Kate:
“Go out and volunteer with students. Help out an after school program. Do some tutoring. Do anything you can to be in front of students, especially ones who don’t look like you.
It’s really important to experience cultural differences, whatever they might be. Use those experiences volunteering to build your education resume.”