Nominated by former student, Kenta Takao:
Mrs. Schmit is one of the best teachers I’ve had because of what she teaches. She taught me computer applications, which are the fundamentals of Microsoft Office. She also teaches a business class and also leads the schools FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) Club. I was in FBLA for three years of high school. The reason I liked her so much is because essentially everything she taught me was applicable to the “real” world and my post-high school experience so far. From her classes and clubs to just her advice in terms of personality and character, everything she has mentioned has been useful in my work and relationships. For example, when I went to FBLA Nationals last year she gave my friend and I a small challenge to talk to as many people as we can but also to listen to them and really learn about them. Since then I realized that there are a lot of people out there, but most importantly, that all of their stories are fascinating in their own way. When you talk to high school kids, many of them don’t care about the learning simply because it’s not applicable toward getting a job. That's why I realized what Mrs. Schmit was teaching us was valuable and also why she was my best teacher. I have a lot of respect for her and she also has a great personality. She definitely deserves this award.
*Note: Kathy is also the Business/Technology Instructor, Future Business Leaders of America & Yearbook Advisor, Navigation 101 Leadership Team Department Chair, Microsoft Certified Educator & Trainer!
Congratulations Kathy, from all of us at K103!
What inspired you to become an educator?
I have always believed in the power of one. One person can make a complete difference in someone else’s life or in their own life. Working in the school district as a classified staff I saw so many students and staff members with an aversion to technology. Technology can enhance or inhibit your education in many ways. Did I always want to be a teacher? No, I actually never thought about it. I knew that technology was a gift that I possessed, and I had many opportunities to teach unofficially as a classified staff member. However, one day a coworker (a teacher) told me that I had to get my teaching certificate because I was so good with the kids. I had never thought about really being a teacher as teachers seemed so elite in my eyes, still even as an adult. But with the support and help of my family and mentor staff I did it! So in the end I guess it would come down to the fact that I teach not only technology…but the power of one. The power to believe in yourself, when no one else does. The power to believe in someone else to change their life. The power that one choice can make a difference. Technology just happens to be the tool I use to teach that with.
What do you like most about teaching?
Seeing the light go on! Seeing a student that wants to learn and I have the way to help them soar. They don’t have to stay with the regular learning schedule if they don’t want. The sky is the limit with education and when a student takes that and runs with it…AWESOME! But I do have to say that equal to that is the feeling you get when you stay after school for days on end to help a student with concepts in a test that they are trying to pass and they put in their time with you and they are successful...AMAZING!
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
This will be my 7th year teaching technology and of course in the last 2 it seems to have exploded. Everything is personal and fast. Educational delivery, devices, and accountability have all gone digital. If you are not moving to that or with it you are being left behind. We are training students for jobs that do not yet exist for the most part. So we are teaching them to think and be lifelong learners as cliché as that sounds. Because if we teach them to a specific test or standard, which will change next year, they will be behind next year. We are working to help them anticipate and desire to learn. Everything seems to be expected at an accelerated rate as well.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
I do not get the summer off! But…is it worth it? Absolutely. Summer is when my successful students go to national conferences, when I go to trainings, or train my fellow teachers. It is worth every second of effort. I think also I would want parents to know that their children are my children. When you spend a focused hour every day, and 5.5 hours intermixed with these kids, especially in a small school, it becomes personal. A student’s success, failure, excitement, sadness and daily ups and downs are shared with their teachers and for me it is always a way to help them either continue to soar or to re-evaluate their direction and remind them of the power of one.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
Oh my goodness there are so many. FBLA would have to hold my favorite memories. But the most memorable would be when we were at FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) State in April of 2012. FBLA is a professional club that we participate in to fulfill Washington CTE state requirements for professionalism. We had finally, consistently, had students qualifying for state. This would have been our 3rd year to state and we were getting a little antsy to move to the next level of National competition. One of our students was in the Help Desk competition and as we sat at the awards ceremony and his name came up on the screen as top 5 we were ecstatic! As they began to announce the winners I recorded all the students with me guessing 5th would be Jon, then 4th would be, then not 4th, seriously, 3rd would be him, and when he was announced as #1 in Washington state, they went wild! I will never forget it. I think I still have that recording on my phone. Then later when he and I traveled to San Antonio to Nationals we sat at McDonalds the morning of the competition eating breakfast and practicing handling a customer service call for technology. We practiced the basics, how to answer, giving an employee number, case number and in case you get disconnected number. All those things you hear the customer service agents do, but he had not done in State competition. His technology prowess was natural and he had a vast knowledge base, so we really just needed him to be professional and give the correct, real life situation cues. We practiced and practiced and practiced and eventually he spoke all the right words and numbers like they were real. He went on to take 2nd in the Nation for Help Desk. Then the next year we had 3 students take 1st in the Nation, and 3 more on to Nationals this year and 3 WORLD contenders in MS Office programs. The power of one…