Kerr takes on new challenge in 27th year of teaching
Kim Kerr said teaching must run in her genes.
Her mother was a school teacher; her two daughters are teachers, and they even married teachers.
This school year will make 27 years for Kerr.
“I still love my job after 27 years,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
She has taught kindergarten through fifth grade in her career. For the first time, she doesn’t have a classroom full of 25 (or more) students. She isn’t even teaching one specific grade level this year.
Instead, she has started her new job as a math interventionist at Justice Elementary School in which she helps students of all grade levels perfect their math skills. Now, she will work one-on-one with students and in small groups; it’s a new, exciting adventure, Kerr said.
“I miss having a lot of kids,” she said. “…But with this job, I’m in every classroom. So I get to see my kids from last year. I still get to meet new kids. And it’s very rewarding that I get to experience a lot more than not. I get to see lots of kids in the building. And I get to see growth much quicker.”
Kerr, a Winchester native, received her bachelor and master degrees from Eastern Kentucky University.
Kerr watched her mother teach thousands of children how to read. Kerr said her mother, 92, still works as a tutor.
Kerr was practically raised in her mother’s classroom, helping get the room ready at the beginning of the year and helping her mother tutor.
“I knew from a little girl that this is what I wanted,” Kerr said.
Kerr said her favorite part about teaching is the connections she makes with the students and their families.
“I love getting to know what makes that kid who they are,” she said.
Kerr said also makes sure she tells her students she loves them and hugs them every day.
“You don’t know if they’re gonna get another one,” she said. “That might be it.”
Kerr said she is inspired by her students, seeing their dedication to their school work and extracurricular activities.
“It’s not easy being a kid anymore,” Kerr said.
There are also many funny moments as a grade school teacher, Kerr said. She recalls a month-long third-grade “Prom Date Drama,” a tale of jealousy and betrayal amongst third-grade crushes. Kerr said she and other teachers had to inform the third-graders, their “prom-that-was-never-actually-happening” was canceled.
She is also impressed by their love for learning and their knack for technology.
Kerr also said the demands for teachers have changed over the 27 years she has been a teacher as well as family dynamics and what’s expected of children.
Kerr said she reminds new teachers not to get overwhelmed, to take the workload in stride and remember to love and get to know the children above all else.
Regardless of the challenges, Kerr said one thing hasn’t changed: the compassion and love she has for her students.
“You can change lives,” Kerr said. “When you’re a teacher, you can steer a child (who is) going down the wrong path. And you can change their life, teach them to love to read and to be able to take themselves out of their situation. You can teach them to love education, and to know that education is what’s going to get them out of their situation.”
Kerr said she advises her students to do their homework and to learn to love to read.
“I think if they can love to read, they can take themselves anywhere,” Kerr said. “They can do anything.”
Outside of teaching, Kerr said she enjoys spending time with her 10-month-old granddaughter Ava, reading, practicing needlepoint and visiting the beach.
As for the future, Kerr said retirement is in sight, probably within the next four to five years. Though, even in retirement, Kerr said she’s confident she will still be spending time in the schools, attending classroom parties as “Granna” for Ava and volunteering for other classroom duties.
And perhaps, watching Ava grow up to be a teacher, too.