Inspirational Educator: Katherine Padden – We are Not Just Teachers. We are Second Parents, Friends, Role Models and More.

How long have you been teaching?

I just recently graduated this past May with my Bachelor’s and Master’s in Secondary English Education from West Virginia University. Even though I have not been by myself in the classroom, my past student teaching experiences have showed me how amazing this career will be.

Why did you choose teaching as a career?

As long as I can remember, I have loved giving back to others. Whether it was raising money for a non-profit or leading teenagers during a youth leadership camp, there was no better feeling than being a positive influence on others. I believe that English can help you find yourself. Through reading and writing, I have felt powerful and wanted to make a difference like the characters I got to know.

Many people question if our current education system is working. What do you think?

I believe it is if we look at it in a different way. Rather than looking at test scores to see how successful a teacher or school is, we should use testimonies and progression. Once we start to look at the rawest form of assessment, we will be able to see what is working and what is not working.

What would you like to see being taught in our classrooms?

If the student does not connect to your curriculum, they are not learning. We need to teach lessons that students enjoy and can take out with them in the real world. If they do not see it as useful information, that is where the blockage of schooling comes through.

If you have been teaching less than five years, do you intend to stay in the profession? Explain your feelings.

Since I am on the job search for my first full time position, I am so excited to get in there. I believe my passion for teaching will last me a lifetime!

Share your proudest teacher moment.

Even though I have only student taught, I could write a book on how amazing my students were. I believe my proudest teacher moment was a message request I received on my Instagram this spring. In the spring of 2016, I did my middle school placement at a school in the middle of West Virginia. While this school was only 30 minutes outside of Morgantown, many of the students were at a low socioeconomic status with 100% free and reduced lunch. I can say I have never been more inspired than by my 5th grade classes that I had the pleasure of getting to know. On my last day, we celebrated, shared our favorite memories and wished each other well. Yet, one memorable student was not there. Even though I thought about them frequently since then, I did not think that they would still remember me. Within this message request, it was the student that was not there on my last day. Almost a year later, she thanked me for being a great female role model since she did not have one in her life. She also went on and thanked me for all the help with her writing, for always listening to her and making her feel like she could take on the world. After reading that message, I was confident that this is what I am meant to do for the rest of my life!

What is the most important message about teaching that you would like People to know?

We are not just teachers. We are second parents, friends, role models and more. We play a crucial role for children and can change lives. Even though our profession is not seen as highly as others, a human’s existence is based off education. Thank your past teachers and children’s teachers! It makes a world of a difference!

How can parents and Educators work together to better to ensure children are successful?

It is almost necessary for positive teacher and educator communication for the student to be successful. Instead of teachers emailing or calling home for negative actions, we need to praise students for what they are doing highly in. If you keep in contact with parents and always update them, respect and trust will form.

What is the most important educational gift parents can provide for their children to help them be successful learners?

Love… Love, love, love! Make sure to tell them every night how much you love them and how they can change the world. It will make all the difference…

Who is most Inspirational Teacher you’ve had? Why?

I have two most inspirational teachers in my life that stand out. Mrs. Dulick (Honors 10th English) and Mrs. Mick (Honors 11th English) have changed my life in more than one way. They brought my love of English alive. Those two classes were by far my hardest of high school. Yet, they pushed me to my limits because they knew I could succeed. I could connect to every unit or lesson that was given to me with my real life outside of the classroom. I learned how to love, empathize, and be true to myself. They shaped me to be the educator I am today. Thank you for everything!
11. How many hours a week do you spend completing all of your duties related to your job. Are there any extra duties that people may find surprising or not consider that you have to complete?

The most frustrating thing a teacher can hear is that they get summers off. As it may seem like it, reflecting, preparing, reading and being a lifelong learner happens 24/7 of our everyday lives. Yet, we love to do it. Every hour of lesson planning is worth one lightbulb that goes off during that lesson.

What do you think is a fair salary for teachers?

Every profession deserves all the money in the world!

Have you ever paid for supplies for your classroom?

During my student teaching, I had to pay out of pocket for anything I wanted to use in the classroom. Even though it got expensive on a college student’s budget, it was worth every penny.

If you had a wish list of needs for your classroom what would the top three things be?

Wow! This would be so long… I want to build my classroom library to fit everyone’s needs. I am off to a solid start, but could use many different genres to interest my students!

To send this Inspirational Educator some books to help expand her new classroom library, please email:

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