It took a while, but...
Crystal Apple teacher finally enjoys school
Kimberly Watts didn't like school that much. When she graduated from Coronado High 20-some years ago, she had no wish to stay in education. Her main goals
were getting married (she was already engaged), having children and “being the best mom in the world,” she explained in a recent interview.
So it's fair to say that Watts could hardly have foreseen herself becoming a teacher one day - let alone a 2010 recipient of the coveted Crystal Apple award that goes to a few highly regarded District 11 instructors every year.
“No one was more surprised than me,” said the Midland Elementary fourth-grade teacher. She is one of three Westside teachers - out of five in the district - who received Crystal Apples this year. (The other two, Lesa Finger of West Middle School and Brent Urban of Coronado High, were featured in the past two issues of the Westside Pioneer.)
The fact is that being a mother (she has two children) had a lot to do with Watts' evolution into a teacher. She started volunteering in her kids' classrooms, starting with preschool and following them through the grades. This was at Carver Elementary (near Austin Bluffs and Academy) in District 11. Eventually, she was asked to formalize her assistance by becoming a paid teacher's aide, but she recalled finding that “working as a parent and a staff member at the same school is difficult.”
So 13 years ago, she changed schools, coming to Midland as a teachers aide for Title 1 students (in a program that existed at that time). In ensuing years, she assisted in special education and later in the school library, often working with small groups and reading with them.
As her experience increased, she began hearing from teachers she worked with that she ought to start “doing it for real.” Watts still wasn't sure. She described herself as fairly typical of kids who grow up on the Westside - good-natured and staying out of trouble, but not excited by school nor very confident of what they can achieve. “I never felt like I fit in,” she commented.
At last she decided to give college a try. With the help of a two-year leave of absence and a District 11 scholarship (which allowed her to fully focus on her studies), she managed to attain a Bachelor's degree and a teaching certificate in 2006.
So it was that in the school year of 2006-2007, Midland Elementary had a new teacher by the name of Kimberly Watts. Going back to the school where she had been an aide at first made her feel “a little nervous,” she said. But it worked out well. “I love this school, it's on the Westside, and I can make a difference,” she said.
She started with third grade, staying with the same class through fourth and fifth grades over the next two years before settling in with fourth grade this year.
Along with teaching the district/school curriculum, a major goal for Watts is instilling confidence in her students. “These kids need a champion, if you will, somebody who believes in them,” she said. “That way they can learn to be their own champion.”
Westside Pioneer article