Pocahontas County High School science teacher Kathy White was selected as Teacher of the Month for November for her hard work and dedication to the students and the school.
“I’m really pleased that people would think I deserve that,” White said. “I don’t feel like I do anything more than what everybody else does. I feel like, right now, we have such a talented staff, and I feel really lucky to teach with a lot of these guys.”
Along with teaching science, White has become proactive in other areas of the school, serving on committees which focus on the improvement of the education provided at the high school and in the facility itself.
“I sit on a lot of different committees,” White said. “I’m faculty senate chair. I’m the Education Association chair. Right now, we’re working on looking into some innovative ways to improve our schedule here at the high school, so I’m working on that.”
Although it’s hard to imagine White anywhere but in her classroom, she didn’t begin her career as a teacher. She used her degree and knowledge on the staff of a doctor’s office.
“My degree is in science, and I went back and picked up the classes I needed to teach when I moved to the county,” she said. “What I did first is, I actually worked in the science field. I worked in a doctor’s office. I was one of the staff that did things like take blood samples. I was not really a medical tech, but I was support staff in the office.”
White has always loved science, and when she saw her brother struggling to understand chemistry when he was in high school, she decided it was time to leave behind the doctor’s office and become a teacher.
If science was her first love, then teaching science would be her second. White found herself in her element in the classroom.
“It’s hands-on,” she said. “The kids – they’re fun and science is different every day. We’re doing genetics right now and finally they’re going, ‘oh, well, that explains why I have this trait but not that,’ or ‘that’s why I have blue eyes and both my parents have brown.’ So, for them, making it interesting and helping them understand, that, to me, is why I love teaching science to kids.”
Throughout her 25 years at PCHS, White has seen many changes. Her colleague Pam Sharpes retired and several new teachers have come and gone. Now, with Mary Sue Burns and new kid on the block Amy Coleman, the science department is preparing for another change – Next Generation Standards, AKA Common Core.
While many parents and teachers have come out against the new standards, White said she is optimistic about where the standards are going in the science field.
“It’s going to be interesting next year to see what happens,” she said. “The ninth grade course becomes Earth science, so there is some shake-up in the sequence of courses. Next year, it’s going to change and the Next Generation science standards will come into play. Some of the ways we’re teaching and some of the things that we add to what we’re already teaching will change a little bit.
“I feel like we’ve got such a talented staff right now; the changes that are coming along are going to be better for our kids in the long run,” she continued. “I don’t feel like our kids haven’t done well in the past because I talk to people who went through the high school and are successful, and have done well at whatever they choose to do. Just because I’m a science teacher, I don’t feel like every kid has to go into science, but they should be able to understand what’s going on in the world around them – whether it’s with their own bodies or if it’s what’s happening in our climate or anything – at least have a background in that.”
White is also a sophomore class sponsor and adviser for the National Honor Society.