Photos by Ellie Thoma
As English teacher Kristin Anderson wakes up in the morning, she is thrilled that she gets to teach her juniors about Woman At Point Zero. In her twentieth year of teaching Anderson continually finds ways to make her English classes interesting.
“When I come to class every morning I have to give 120 percent because the students will give me half of that which is already 60 percent,” Anderson said. “What if I only gave 50 percent then I would only be getting 25 percent to begin with.”
Currently, Anderson teaches Honors English 10 and IB Junior English. According to Anderson, there is a point in learning where students are able to grow through literature and feel smart, which is one of her favorite parts of teaching
Anderson graduated from Avila University in Kansas City and began teaching high school back home in Irvine, California. She taught both high school and middle school in California but moved back to Kansas after four years of teaching in California. She has been teaching at East for the past 16 years. Being a leader came easy to Anderson as she was on the dance team in high school. Anderson choreographed several dances for her team; being a leader came naturally. For Anderson, a teacher just seemed to always be the right fit. She felt like her leadership skills could equate to leading students.
Anderson strives to make the most out of every day teaching. In her IB level class there are several ways that she keeps her students interested. Her assignments vary from analysis to creative to artwork to essays to help create variation. One assignment she does is African painting in order to connect to the literature on a different level. Every student has a different skill, so having different types of assignments give each student a chance to shine.
Anderson chooses to dedicate her time to students in order help them be as successful as possible. Anderson spends at least 20 hours a week grading papers, improving lesson plans and making things fun for the students. But it is something that Anderson sees as valuable to make the most of both her and her students’ time.
Every day she asks a roll call question to get to know each student. A couple of years ago, Anderson had a lot of the same students, because she taught English Honors 10 and then teaching AP English 11 and IB Junior English. Senior Brena Levy had Anderson for both sophomore and junior year. Anderson helped Brena choosing between the AP or IB route by discussing things about books and her passion for English.
“[Anderson and I] relate people in real life back to people in novels, which I know sounds really nerdy,” Levy said. “But not many teachers do that and share a passion for English like we do.
In IB, Anderson has the freedom to teach whatever books she wants to teach. In second semester, she is able to teach any book, novel or piece of literature as long as it has been translated from a foreign language.
Not many teachers at East are willing to incorporate outside activities into the curriculum. She has her IB class make sushi and tea bowls as well as tea for a Japanese novel, as IB tells all teachers to “immerse the students in the culture.” The class plays Mancala and does African painting for an African novel, and Salsa dances for a Colombian novel.
“[Anderson] just really cares about her students prospering inside and outside of the classroom Levy said. “What other teacher lets their kids swim in the East pool and make sushi?”