Sticking with one job for 30 years is an accomplishment in and of itself. When that job is teaching, three decades of service shows an unending amount of passion and commitment.
If you ask around in Tucker County, Kathy King’s former students will tell you about her vast reserves of passion and commitment. In her 30 years of teaching, she worked with close to 600 students. With retirement coming at the end of this school year, King and her students look back on three decades of a wonderful career.
King began her teaching career at Davis Thomas Elementary Middle School in January 1988.
“There were only two places in the world that I wanted to teach: one was my hometown of Marietta, Ohio, where I was born and raised and went to college; and the other was Tucker County,” King said.
She was first introduced to Tucker County through her husband, whose family used to vacation here. “When we first started dating, I was going to get a job here, so he could live his dream,” she said.
After college, King applied to teach for both school systems. She received an offer in Marietta and was prepared to begin her career there. Tucker County Superintendent Dr. Mary Alice Klein then entered the picture.
Superintendent Klein offered King a position in a special education classroom at DTEMS. With her husband’s urging, King called Marietta schools to break the bad news, and then packed up to head to Tucker County.
She taught in the special education classroom for three and a half years and a kindergarten classroom for a year at DTEMS before landing in a 3rd grade classroom, where she found her niche.
“My favorite teacher was a third grade teacher, and in third grade they can tie their own shoes and zip up their own coats, but they still want to play games, sing songs, and be goofy. It’s the best of both worlds,” she said.
Through examination of her teaching career and practices, it is clear that King pushed her students. An underlying theme in King’s career is “aim high.” “If you put your bar up high, children will reach it,” she said.
This philosophy paid dividends in her students’ standardized test scores. “I expect more, and the test is not quite as difficult,” she said.
The idea of setting the bar high shone through in the plays King used to direct. “Things were a little more hands on in her class,” recalled former student Tyler Elliot. “We used to have these plays, and we would paint the backdrop,” he said.
“She was a great teacher. For one, she is hopeful, kind, and supportive. People learn in different ways, and she was able to provide enough different avenues for different minds to learn,” Elliot said.
Throughout her 30 years at DTEMS, King witnessed many changes in the school and the community at large. When she began, the school was overflowing with students. The preschool addition was built around the beginning of her career.
Then 1991 came, and many of the area’s coalmines closed. A number of families fled in search of work. “Within a year and a half, we went from a school of two of every grade, to one of every grade,” King recalled.
Throughout here career, King also witnessed the rise of technology in the classroom. The instantaneous nature of technology altered many of the lessons and practices that teachers deliver to their students. “Now, knowledge is a split second away,” she said.
One of the lower points in career was during the “Reading First” initiative propagated by the Bush administration. “I didn’t think I could make it to 30 years,” she said. She remembered the initiative as overbearing and constrictive.
The initiative passed, as most aspects of life do, and King resumed her teaching with the same amount of zeal and passion as before.
As retirement nears, King plans include spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren.