Name: Kate Gronquist
School district: Ulysses High School, USD 214
City/State: Ulysses, KS
Class/content area taught: Family and Consumer Sciences (Culinary Essentials, Baking and Pastry, Nutrition and Wellness, Human Development, and Family Studies). She also is the FCCLA sponsor and cheer coach.
Kate Gronquist, wrapping up her second semester of teaching, says she especially enjoys “watching kids apply projects to their life. They get really into whatever activities we are working on. For example, we were talking about stress in my nutrition class. I had a student come tell me they used stress management techniques I taught them when they were stressing out about a test. Or in my Culinary class we talked about soy and sampled soy milk. One student enjoyed it so much he had his mom go buy him some soy milk that night!”
Most of Kate’s classes are semester long electives, which means she starts with a new group for second semester.
“Second semester has been a great experience for me…. At the beginning of this semester I got to start fresh with new classes. I was able to learn from my mistakes I made last semester and make changes. All of my classroom routines and policies are running much more smoothly this semester. I’m no longer creating every single lesson plan from scratch!!! I have also been at my school long enough to have it feel more like home. I have built up relationships with students and teachers. I understand more small things about the school that may seem insignificant, but really they help (i.e. where are the paper clips?!?!)”
Among her accomplishments, she has received three grants totaling nearly $1,400 and was accepted into the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences leadership academy for this summer.
She credits the KSU College of Education with preparing her well for her new career.
“The two specific things I believe helped me the most (besides my wonderful advisor, Sally Yahnke) have to do with field experiences. I believe putting students in the classroom their sophomore and junior year really helps you to feel comfortable being a leader in the classroom. Nothing can replace that face-to-face time with students, and I think it puts KSU students at a definite advantage. I also believe that rotating each field experience between different types of schools benefits students. I was in Manhattan Campus East, Junction City FSA, and Wamego High School [for field experiences]. Being able to experience multiple types of schools helped prepare me to teach in any type of school I desired. It also helped me figure out whether I like or dislike certain size schools, demographics, and areas. Some of my placements put me outside my comfort zone, but that definitely helped me in the long run.”
As a new teacher, Kate said, she is finding that breaking the school year into quarters helps it seem less overwhelming.
“During student teaching, which was simultaneously an awesome and awful experience, my classmates and I would tell ourselves that we could do anything for “x” amount of weeks,” she said. “It’s the same concept when you get your first job. At times it will be overwhelming and you may think, ‘Why in the world did I do this?!’, but it will get better.
“Survive your first quarter, then your first semester. Before you know it, it’ll be the beginning of your second year teaching. It flys by. Just try your best, and it will work out.”