Kitty, Santa Monica, Kitty Donahoe discussed on Teachers in America
On this episode, we meet kitty donahoe, elementary teacher at Roosevelt elementary school, part of the Santa Monica Malibu, unified school district in Santa Monica, California. Raised in Yosemite valley, kitty moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA where she received her BA and masters in education. She has looped with her classes for about 20 of the 34 years that she has taught. This means that she is able to teach the same group of students for more than one year. While kitty believes that developing student relationships is the key to successful teaching, she also finds support by surrounding herself with educator friends and experts both online and at her school. Every year, Kenny attends summer institute at Columbia University's teacher college reading and writing project. She is also an alumni fellow of the kotzen foundation for the art of teaching. A passionate writer, kitty's debut children's novel, is how to write a dragonfly. Now, here are kitty and Noel. Good morning, kitty, how are you? I'm so excited that we're getting this chance to meet. Good morning, Noel and I'm very excited to be here to my first podcast that I've ever done. I'm can not say enough how excited I am. First of all, you teach in Santa Monica, which is one of my favorite places in the country. I love LA and when I'm out in LA, I love Santa Monica. Did you start your student teaching and you're still in the same district? That is correct in my school is only a few blocks away from the beach. It is so beautiful there and you're right. It's an incredibly amazing place to teach and a beautiful area to live. In the 30 plus years that you've taught, has anything changed within the district have you gotten to just see the community change? I mean, you have that natural beauty of the beach. Definitely. But I can imagine over the decades, just the iconic nature of where you live, but tell us a little bit about teaching in that environment, the community and what you've seen change over the 30 years. Well, one thing I've noticed about my school district is that it's always embraced creativity and innovation and I'm really grateful for that. And what I really like about our district is a lot of us do the teachers college reading and writing project, which is led by Lucy Hawkins. We use that curriculum. And so the really ready to try and embrace very progressive curriculum like that, which I love, something else I love about my school and it's become even more so, although it always was, is that it's very international and I have students who either their parents or even themselves were born in another country. I do have a lot of children who were born in California, but I would say at least half of my class or more than half have parents that were born in another country. And this is not unusual. What I have this school year and it adds a really amazing and deep cultural appreciation in our classroom. And we have been doing a lot of work to bring books to the classroom that reflect all students, so they see themselves in their books we read and they can see other cultures and appreciate that. So I really feel like our district is I know for sure my school really train hard to raise awareness of not just anyone group so that they see themselves in the books and see other people. And I'm really thrilled to see that going on in our. Is there an author? Is there a book that you've discovered that your students are just raving about? I have to say, last year, I did zoom teaching for a year. Unlike maybe some teachers I did not feel alone. I was really lucky. And I had always loved grace Lin, and so I read to my students on Zoom where the mountain meets the moon and I was so transported and so were my students by this beautiful book. And we felt that we were no longer in a zoom classroom, but we were on a journey with a little girl in China and her dragon friend. And the children left her so much, usually I tried to read different authors, which I did in the picture books, but they were begging me to read more graceland. So during the pandemic, I ended up reading all three of her books that are companion pieces to each other. And one of the lines I'm going to prayer phrase it in the book when the sea turned to silver. The grandmother is in the grandmother in the book is a storyteller and she's thrown in prison and her granddaughter goes on a quest to rescue her. And there's somebody else in prison with the grandmother and he finds out that she's a storyteller. And he says, when you are in prison with the storyteller, you are not in prison at all. And it really made me think about the metaphor of how even though so many teachers and children all over the world might have felt really stymied by the fact that we were on Zoom school and we couldn't go and do things that we normally did. The fact that we had stories to transport us made us feel that just like in that beautiful metaphor in her book, we weren't in prison. Our stories let us travel everywhere. So I feel like graceland got myself and my class through Zoom teaching last year. And I'm forever grateful for that. Aw, I'm gonna take that memory to heart and I'm definitely going to unpack that quote for myself and the work that I do. So thank you so much for sharing that. Kitty, do you come from a family of teachers? That is a really good question. I have a very interesting family background. My great grandparents immigrated from Ireland in the late 1800s and they homesteaded in Yosemite National Park before it was a national park. And there were 7 children, and even though they were in the wilderness, they made sure that every single one of them both the men and the women in the family got a college education. There was a real love of education in my family and both of my sisters have done teaching and I'm just not surprised I became a teacher because education and language was always really valued in my family, Noel. I'm now trying to picture family photographs of homesteading in Yosemite park. Do you on the side of education too? Do you have a love of nature and exploring and outdoors just because of where.