Welcome back to the POP QUIZ! This is a regular, yet totally unexpected, feature where we ask students, parents, staff, our friends, and partners to answer a few questions about what they are learning, reading, and thinking about. Today we feature Katherine Williamson, who is in her second year as the Communities In Schools After School Coordinator at Hillside Middle School. We had a chance to meet up with her several weeks ago.
Katherine has strong ties to the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). All four of her children attended Hillside and all graduated from KPS. Upon retiring from teaching—she taught English for 18 years in KPS (15 years at Loy Norrix and three at Phoenix High School)—she found herself drawn to Communities In Schools (CIS).
“I felt like I could use my background as an educator in the CIS After School Program. It’s very different from teaching and I’ve had to get used to that. I’m enjoying working with my Youth Development Workers. They are very creative in coming up with ways to help the kids. I enjoy working with them on how to structure a lesson, how to work with the kids, and plan for the enrichment clubs we offer. Right now we have weight training, recycling, and we also always seem to have a creative arts program going. Thanks to a partnership with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Nick Thornton comes on a weekly basis to work with students on things like improvisation, body movement, and voice projection. The students love it.”
Alright, Katherine: pencil out, eyes on your own paper. Good luck.
What is something interesting you’ve recently learned?
I was very interested to learn that the State EPA in Flint knew about the lead poisoning in the water and didn’t do anything about it. I’m really dismayed by all the information coming out. I keep thinking about all those children.
What are you currently reading?
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. While it’s very interesting, I’m not as in love with it as everybody else I know is. But the Gaelic in it, the language, that makes it appealing to me. I also read We Beat the Streets over break and liked it very much. I’m excited that we are reading it as a school.
What’s your favorite word right now?
The word I keep thinking this week is egregious, especially in light of all that’s coming out about Flint. I also learned a new word while reading the book Outlander. Reticule.
Never heard of it.
It’s a net purse that women used to carry.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a wise old woman. That’s my aspiration. I was listening to a Toni Morrison interview on NPR recently and she mentioned being a grouchy old woman. She’s 84 and still writing. I don’t want to be grouchy but I’d like to grow up and be as wise as Toni Morrison.
She wrote The Bluest Eye. Did you read that?
Yes, I’ve read most of her books. She’s one of my favorite authors. I read Home, one of her newer books, over break and that was really good.
Her writing is beautiful and complicated. She’s not an easy read.
Right. She’s very much of a scholar. She taught at Princeton for many years.
Behind every successful student is a caring adult. Who has been your caring adult?
My partner, Deb Rhinard. She’s a social worker so I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what I do from her. She’s amazingly compassionate. She helps me remember to be compassionate. I can do that for her, too. There’s a lot of bad stuff in the world and she helps me refocus on the things that we can do to help.
Thank you, Katherine!
In the weeks to come you can look forward to learning more about other members of the wonderful CIS Site Team at Hillside. If you missed the recent post about Principal McKissack, you can read it by clicking here.
Tags: After School Coordinator, CIS, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Hillside Middle School, Kalamazoo Civic Theater, Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Katherine Williamson, Nick Thornton, Outlander, Toni Morrison, We Beat the Streets