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DifferenceMakers: Kimberly Blanton - St. Joseph, Howell

Please tell us about yourself. Hi! My name is Kimberly Blanton. I am a fifth grade teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Howell, Mich. I have been teaching fifth grade for seven years. I graduated from the University of Michigan and hold a Master’s Degree in curriculum, instruction, and assessment from Marygrove College. I have a young daughter, who attends St. Joseph’s Preschool Program and another baby on the way. I am very fortunate to have my daughter near to experience this great school’s education!

Describe your school. When I look at St. Joseph Catholic School as a teacher, I see a very collaborative environment. The administration, teachers, staff, and parish work well together to create a strong community focused on high expectations of education and faith for our students. You can tell everyone is happy to be here. I think this is the ideal work place and I feel fortunate to work with such a positive staff and student body!

Catholic schools are different because…so many people are invested in educating your child’s whole self. From families, teachers, parish members, and other students our children are prepared spiritually, academically, and socially to face our world with strong values. There is a sense of teamwork here to help our students succeed that other schools cannot match!

What drew you to teaching at a Catholic school? I was not exposed to Catholic education as a child, so the experience of becoming a Catholic school teacher really drew me to love Catholic education. I instantly saw in my first years of teaching how Catholic education focused on the whole child. Not only do we have high academic standards for our students, but we help prepare them socially and spiritually. Being able to teach my students using the virtues and morals of the Church is priceless. I found I even strive to be a better role model for my students by living a virtuous life they can look up to.

In the fifth grade classroom, it is inspiring to watch these young children pray for one another and plan charitable acts for others too!

What is your favorite part about teaching? What are your greatest rewards? My absolute favorite part about teaching is bonding with my students and making their learning fun and relatable. I really love how we both have a positive impact on each other. They push me to make lessons engaging and I love incorporating their ideas!

There really is nothing like hearing my students excited to come to class, or excited about a lesson or novel we are reading. I strive to make our class a positive environment to learn. I really do enjoy connecting with my students and helping them be their best selves.

The greatest reward is setting high standards for my students and watching them reach their goals. It is so rewarding to have a class that collaborates and wants the best for each other.

In your experience, what do Catholic schools do best? What does your school do best?  I think Catholic schools create strong relationships between the school, parents, and parish the best! My school is the BEST at creating a great connection between the church, school, and our families that attend.  I feel much investment in the school and in the lives of the families I am teaching for.  Working in this environment where parents and families are present truly gives me a sense of a family. I enjoy having siblings of families that I care for and love to see their children grow from preschool through eighth grade.