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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • EDUCATOR Q&A: Kay Unruh

  • Haviland Grade School


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  • Subject you teach: Elementary teacher. 2/3rd Reading, 4th Grade Science, 2nd Math, Science, Social Studies
    School: Haviland Grade School
    Hometown: Vale, South Dakota
    Education: B.S. from Barclay
    Family: I have 2 brothers and three sisters. I am married to Neill and I have three children, Jennifer, Jeremy, and Andrew.
    Interests and hobbies: In my spare time I love to travel.  I also love to quilt, read, cook, and garden. I am active in my community and am a member of the Haviland City Council. I love music and enjoy playing on our church worship team.
    Why did you decided to become an educator?
    Teaching was modeled for me by several family members. My mother and three sisters all taught, as well as my grandfather and several aunts. I have always enjoyed working with children and it seemed I always gravitated to working with kids in one setting or another. I realized my gifts were in teaching, so when my children were all in school I finished my degree and began my career.  
    Who is a teacher or professor who inspired you and how?
    My Grandfather had a great influence on my life. He actually taught in a one room school house in the late 1800’s then went on to farm and pastor a small Friends Church in South Dakota. He was truly a lifelong learner.  I have vivid memories of seeing him at his desk studying his Bible or reading a book at all hours of the day or night. He died at the age of 108 and taught me numerous life lessons through his humble life. He was quick to listen, slow to speak, and never tired in his search for knowledge and enlightenment.   I was also highly influenced by my First Grade teacher. She was very kind and thoughtful. She was creative and made learning very enjoyable. I think of her often as I teach and hope my students always know they are loved.
    Who is someone in current events who you admire and why?
    I really admire Franklin Graham. He is the son of the Rev. Billy Graham. He didn’t lead a perfect life, but he turned things around and is focused on making a difference in this world. He oversees a wonderful ministry called Samaritan’s Purse. I have a deep passion for missions and meeting the needs of those less fortunate. His organization makes it possible for people like me to contribute to projects and ministries that really do make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering. When I retire,  I hope to someday be a part of his ministry.
    Page 2 of 2 - What are the greatest challenges in education today?
    If you want to know what we deal with in the classroom, take a look at society. Our classrooms mirror what is happening around us.  Sadly, many children do not have the benefits of a peaceful, nurturing home. Technology has been a wonderful tool for learning in our modern society. We live in what they have deemed The Information Age. For me it is a love hate relationship. On one hand I love the amazing things that can be accomplished quickly with technology. On the other hand, I feel that children of today are so mesmerized by a constant diet of video games, movies, and entertainment, that they have missed out on some of the simple pleasure of life - like playing outside, reading a good book, and spending time with family and friends. Parents are often very busy with their lifestyle as well which impacts the time they spend reading and engaging in conversations and experiences with their children. I’m also saddened by the overemphasis on test scores. As a teacher I feel a great deal of pressure to ensure that my students are well prepared. It’s good to have guidelines and standards, but I miss the freedom and spontaneity of studying topics that are of great interest to students due to time restraints.
    What advice can you offer for someone who wants to go into education?
    I would advise those going into education to go in with eyes wide open. It is a wonderful field that makes a difference in the lives of children, but it is also a very challenging vocation, one that requires constant learning on the part of a teacher. Research is continually coming up with newer and more effective methods of teaching and greater insight into how children learn. You need to be self-motivated and not bothered by putting in hours of work beyond what your teaching contract states. You need to relate well to children and their parents. One of the first and foremost qualities of effective teachers is the ability to form good healthy relationships with the children they spend their days with. Children know if you really care about them.
    What teaching moment is most memorable?
    The first year I taught Fifth Grade, we had a student move in from another state. He was quiet, withdrawn and sad. That group of students took him under their wing and just loved on him. They befriended and encouraged him. Before long he was smiling and working hard in his classes. It was one of the most dramatic changes I have ever seen in a child. Sadly his parents had to move before the year was over and it was truly heartbreaking for all of us. I think it made an impact on each of us that showing respect, love and encouragement to others really can be life changing.
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