Students in North Point High School’s education careers program, along with their peers who wanted an up-close look at the field, stopped by the school’s staff development room on March 14 for a Women in Education event.
Superintendent of Schools Kimberly Hill and Kim McClarin, principal of Theodore G. Davis Middle School, spoke to students about their careers and the paths they took to get to where they are now.
Hill opened by waving a magic wand, a gift she received from a colleague after being appointed superintendent in 2013. “There’s no such thing as magic wands,” Hill said. “But those of you in education careers know you need a hook to get people’s attention.”
She told the students when she was their age and attending Maurice J. McDonough High School, she wasn’t going into teaching. Following graduation, she went on study political science and history at High Point University in North Carolina. After earning her bachelor’s, she headed to law school. “I hated it,” she said. “I went for one semester then I had to do something I never did. I had to quit.”
She returned to McDonough, this time as an English and social studies teacher. She didn’t have a classroom, she taught from a cart. “I was trying to stay a page ahead of the kids,” Hill said.
When she was tapped to fill a spot as an acting vice principal, Hill found a job she enjoyed. “I loved it. I got to sit down and talk to kids,” she said. It was when she became a principal at North Point that she knew she was where she belonged. “Hands down, high school principal is the very best job I ever had,” she said. “As a principal, you get to impact lots and lots of kids every day.”
When former superintendent James E. Richmond announced his retirement, Hill’s colleagues encouraged her to apply for the job. She told the students to say ‘yes’ to opportunities. “You never know when the next door is going to open,” Hill said. “Be ready when someone says, ‘Hey, why don’t you …’
Like Hill, McClarin didn’t set out to be an educator. She was a communications major who wanted to be a writer or journalist. After graduating college, she went into the hospitality field and landed a nice job. She had to travel to the Bahamas once or twice a month, but even that grew tiresome, she said.
She returned to her hometown of Fort Lauderdale and signed up to be a substitute teacher. Her interview led to her being offered a job as a sixth-grade reading teacher.
“It was the worst year of my life,” she said.
Time management, lesson planning and being willing to change course when something was not working helped her persevere. “I signed up to do the things no one wanted to do,” she said. “Every opportunity was an opportunity to grow and learn. And prepared me for my next journey.”
Seven years after taking the teaching position, McClarin moved to Bowie and taught in Alexandria, Va. In 2007, she became a vice principal at North Point, working with Hill who was the school’s principal. “It turned out to be one of the best times in my career — the eight years I spent at North Point because I got to learn from the best in the industry,” McClarin said.
She advised the future educators to build relationships with their students. “You have that power to change lives,” she said. “I see so much potential in you.”
“Ultimately, we are preparing you. When you become adults, your real world starts immediately. And everything that people poured into you, you’re going to apply it to every single thing that you do,” McClarin said. “We’re passing the baton and making sure that you all are ready. I need you all to teach my children — I need you to be that champion.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,108 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 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, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 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.