Name: Katie Meek
School district: USD 475-Geary County Schools
City/State: Junction City, KS
Class/content area taught: 11th Grade U.S. History/12th Grade U.S. Gov’t
What are you most excited about with your new career? I’m most excited to continue to learn alongside my students! I teach U.S. Government, so a lot of the content is easily tied to current events. Every day something new can change or help deepen our understanding—it’s fun to be able to learn about these events and topics with my students.
What you enjoy most about teaching: I love watching students determine what they’re passionate about. I know full well that for the large majority of my students, history and government aren’t their greatest passions. I love that as a teacher, we can provide learning opportunities and experiences that help students determine what they are passionate about. My hope is that I can help show students what enthusiastic, life-long learning looks like so they can grow and develop and share their passion with others.
In what ways has your school/district supported you? USD 475 really prides itself on professional development—and they haven’t disappointed! We had a full week of New Teacher Orientation, which had so many incredible professional development opportunities focused on supporting new teachers (introduction to AVID strategies, teaching about Safe and Civil Schools, a classroom management-type program, etc.)
What are some specific things you believe KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career? I will forever be grateful for the practicum experiences we had through K-State and the College of Education. Having hands-on experiences with both teachers and students has proven to be such a huge asset. I’ve been able to spend more of my time as a first-year teacher on what I call the “nuts and bolts,” rather than big picture, structural things, because I already had a conceptual grasp on those from practicums. (Through these practicums, I also spent 4 semesters working in USD 475 schools, and fell in love. Because of those experiences, I am now in this district, teaching at a school I love!)
Are there specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you? I come from a large family of educators, from the elementary through post-secondary level. I’ve thought about teaching since I was in kindergarten! What is even more amazing, however, is that 3 of my aunts and uncles and one of my cousins all started their teaching careers with Geary County Schools—now I’m continuing that family tradition!
After graduating from K-State, I took a year away from the high school classroom to work at the Staley School of Leadership Studies at KSU. While I am so grateful to have had that incredible opportunity, I desperately missed interacting with 14-18 year olds every day. After being out of the secondary classroom, I am fully energized and excited to get to work with young adults every single day!
Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers: Go see your students outside the classroom—at band concerts, sporting events, fundraisers, even their workplaces. The excitement on their faces when they realize you are invested in them outside the classroom is well worth the 2 hours you’ll miss of planning/grading time!