For many teachers, their passion and love for education comes from personal learning experiences. For Kimberly King, a mathematics teacher at Milton M. Somers Middle School, her desire to teach started at a young age when she began to maintain a makeshift classroom full of dolls, stuffed animals and a chalkboard. Throughout her childhood, King came across several influential educators who fueled her desire to teach, including her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Tickell, and Mrs. Williams, one of her high school teachers.
King credits these two teachers, as well as her parents, with her desire to teach children to love math and to always do what is best for her students. “These influential people are embedded in me and are directly responsible for my contributions in education,” she said. According to Somers staff, King’s educational contributions range in modeling high standards and expectations for students to her nurturing and caring demeanor she displays in the classroom. She is known for her natural ability to instill her students with a love for math. For her outstanding abilities as a teacher, King was named the 2014 Charles County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.
King learned of her selection as Charles County’s top teacher in a surprise announcement in her classroom. Somers Principal Stephanie Wesolowski came in her classroom one afternoon to bring her students snacks, and then a few school secretaries came in with cameras and an iPad. Unbeknownst to King, her daughter, who is a producer on the Rachel Ray Show, was video streaming live on the iPad for her mom’s surprise announcement. “I was so excited to see her and thought perhaps we were going to meet a celebrity or Rachel Ray,” King said.
King’s classroom was then joined by Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill, who asked the class if they knew why she was visiting them. Hill began to ask students about King and what made her a great teacher. Several students replied with positive comments and one student in particular shared an emotional story about a time King helped her through the loss of a family member. The student said, “Mrs. King just doesn’t teach us math – she truly cares about us.” Hill then told King and the class that she was picked to represent the school system as the Teacher of the Year.
King said she was excited to learn of her selection for the award. “I was elated and extremely proud. Being in the presence of my students, my supportive principal, my office friends, and my daughter during this announcement was like being on stage accepting an Oscar,” she added. In addition to her caring demeanor, King is known for her ability to positively shape students’ self-esteem and enforces learning through challenging, yet exciting lessons and activities. King is committed to establishing positive relationships with students and colleagues, and believes the relationships are crucial to success in the classroom.
Her teaching philosophy highlights the importance of collaboration in order to build trust and confidence, and showing children she cares about them and their success. “I recently read a quote – ‘Children learn best when they like their teacher and they think their teacher likes them.’ I could not agree more. When my students give an answer or explanation, they must feel validated. It is my responsibility to make sure they feel that way and it is also my responsibility to instill the respect for other students,” she said.
One of the ways King facilitates respect among her students is the use of compassion bags in the classroom. Each student has a compassion bag hanging in her room in which their peers fill the bags with compliments or kind words about their classmates. King also uses a happy thoughts board in which students can share happy posts. Both the compassion bags and happy thoughts board help King establish solid relationships with her students that she says are responsible for the respect and effort she sees daily. “They do this because I have established relationships with them. Their smiles, hand-made cards, notes, hugs and kind words are rewards that are immeasurable. More than anything, their effort they give to me on a daily basis is my reward. When a student posts on the board ‘I love this class’ – my day is made,” King said.
King has been teaching sixth-grade mathematics at Somers since 2010 and strives to reach all levels of learners. She hosts morning math sessions to provide individual attention to students in need of additional assistance, and also coordinates Saturday sessions for students who need help with the current math concept of the week. As part of her daily lessons, King engages students in exciting warm-up routines that require them to use problem solving and reasoning skills. She consistently uses real-world applications in her lessons and provides students with skills necessary to achieve success in other subject matters. Additionally, King uses visual learning tools such as graphic organizers and Internet resources to make her lessons interactive for students.
Wesolowski said King exhibits admirable qualities and is an exemplary role model for her peers. “She is unquestionably one of the most respected and admired teachers on my staff. Her energy, leadership qualities and positive attitude are truly admired and emulated among my staff,” Wesolowski wrote in a nomination letter. King, who began her teaching career in 1998, is also well known for supporting her students outside of the classroom. She organizes book studies with staff, serves on the minority achievement committee, assists with family nights at the school, sponsors the Future Educator Association (FEA) and mentors students. She also works with the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program and attends several after school and weekend events to support students.
Ashin Shah, a former Charles County Public Schools student and student member to the Board of Education, had King as a teacher in elementary school and wrote a letter on behalf of her nomination. In his letter, Shah describes King as an “enduring teacher of life lessons” and said she goes above and beyond what it means to be a teacher. “What makes Mrs. King truly amazing is that she is always the loudest cheerleader for any of her students. For me, I won’t forget that she came to my high school graduation, eight years after I first entered her fifth-grade class, to hear my valedictorian speech, a promise she made in my fifth-grade yearbook. She doesn’t have to tell you, but once you enter her classroom, you become her student forever,” Shah wrote in his letter.
As Charles County’s Teacher of the Year, King is eligible for the Maryland Teacher of the Year award. The state winner is announced by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) in the fall at a special ceremony held to honor all local recipients. The state winner is also considered for the National Teacher of the Year honor. The Board of Education will recognize King at their June 10 meeting.
Prior to teaching at Somers, King was an instructional specialist at John Hanson Middle School. She also served as an instructional specialist and administrative assistant at Somers. From 2001 to 2005, she taught sixth-grade math at Hanson and worked at the elementary school level as a first- and fifth-grade teacher at Dr. Samuel A. Mudd and Malcolm elementary schools for three years. King has been recognized by the Board of Education as an exemplary employee twice and was recognized in 2005 by the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics as a Maryland Math Teacher of the Year.
She has a bachelor’s degree in human growth and development, and elementary and middle school education, from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She has also taken graduate courses at McDaniel College. King is a member of the National Education Association (NEA), the Education Association of Charles County (EACC), the Associations for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Middle Level Education, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the Maryland Assessment Group.
For more information on the Teacher of the Year awards program, visit the MSDE website at http://www.msde.maryland.gov/MSDE/programs/recognition-partnerships/toy_1/.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela Murphy, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, central office building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646. 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
Milton M. Somers Middle School mathematics teacher Kimberly King is the 2014 Charles County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.