Love of children motivates single mother to become a teacher
The opportunity to make a positive difference in students’ lives is at the core of why many teachers choose to be teachers. Kristine Keilwitz was no different – deep down she felt that pull toward education – but as a single mother of two, the time was never right.
“When I was 16 I started teaching Sunday school and running children’s church, and I really enjoyed that,” Kristine said. “It wasn’t until my kids were born and I started volunteering in the school that I was like, ‘I really need to do this.’ Being a single mom, there wasn’t really a convenient time, but when I left my last employer, I decided it was time.”
Kristine pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Education through City University of Seattle in partnership with Lower Columbia College. Once she got into the classroom, there was no turning back. Her interactions with the kids she taught motivated her to keep moving forward.
“To see you’re making a difference in children’s lives is inspiring,” Kristine said. “There are a lot of kids in this area experiencing poverty and some pretty tough stuff, so to be a stable person that can show them love and help them is very fulfilling.”
Support from fellow education students
While working toward her degree, Kristine had the unique opportunity to study with her daughter, Rebekah, who was enrolled in the program at the same time.
“When I started back at school I figured she’d avoid me, but after my first quarter she started arranging our classes so we could take them together,” Kristine said. “It was nice that there was always someone to bounce ideas off of, someone you could call at midnight.”
Kristine also had the support of peers that were in her cohort.
“There were four of us, and we got to make a really good connection and were really involved in each other’s education, which made it really personal,” Kristine said. “There were some rocky points, but despite challenges, we were able to complete on time.”
Asked what advice she would give someone who has a similar interest in teaching, Kristine said:
“There will be bumps in the road, a lot of it seems repetitive and frustrating and you sometimes think ‘where am I ever going to use this?’ but just stick with it, because in the end it all comes together. All of a sudden things you thought you’d never use, you’re using, because things that happen with students you can never expect. It will be hard and frustrating, but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s worth it.”
A dream of teaching abroad
After graduation, Kristine had plans to go teach in China, however the upcoming wedding of her daughter led her to defer for a year.
“I plan to sub for Longview and Kelso; I have friends in both so they’ll keep me busy,” Kristine said. “That way it’ll be easy to pick up and go to China if I decide that’s still what I want to do next year.”
It’s a big world, and Kristine has big dreams for the future.
“I want to keep teaching as long as I possibly can,” Kristine said. “There is a Quaker school in Palestine, and I’d like to go teach there too. I want to be there for students and to make a difference as long as I possibly can.”