Key School

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Catherine McKenzie

Faculty Information
Location(s) Key School
Title(s) Key School 4th Grade Team Leader, Key Lower School Math Department Chair
Contact Information
School Email
  (Primary)
School Phone
(828) 274-0758   x348
Other Information
2010 
 

Catherine McKenzie is a fourth grade teacher at the Key School and teaches multisensory math and social studies. Catherine began working at the Key School in 2010. Her first experience teaching was at a children’s home in South Africa where she taught math and English to nine and 10-year-olds. “It was an incredibly challenging experience with lots of heart-breaking realizations, as well as encouraging moments.  My time in South Africa definitely helps me put my own life, as well as my teaching career into perspective,” said Catherine. She has also presented on the components of a multisensory math lesson and strategies for teaching math in a multisensory way at the Best Practices Symposium.

Get to know Catherine McKenzie:  
 
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools? “I love having the flexibility to plan out-of-the-box lessons and projects that challenge my students to be creative and work collaboratively. I really appreciate the support and encouragement from the administration to challenge kids beyond traditional pencil and paper assignments.”
 
What do you like most about your job at CDS? “I love my students! They are bright, curious, fun, hardworking and have wonderful positive attitudes. I love learning their gifts and strengths, and helping them build confidence.”
 
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions? The CDS community provides the opportunity for students to develop genuine interest sparked through exposure to many different cultures, opinions, and ideas. There are so many passionate teachers and parents in this community that teach what they love in an accessible, interesting, and meaningful way.”
 
How would you describe your classroom? “My class functions a lot like a family. We work through problems together, support each other, encourage each other, are genuinely interested in one another, and definitely laugh together! I love for my students to feel like they can be themselves and share openly, free of judgment.”
 
What books and authors inspire you? Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to become a teacher. I love the passion and commitment Martin Luther King Jr. brought to his work. Reading his book made me realize that I have the same passion for teaching children, not only to be academic scholars, but to be upstanding citizens.”
 
What is your favorite quote about education, mentorship, children, and/or learning? “The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain -- he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem -- he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills.” -William Arthur Ward
 
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less? “I love helping my students discover and utilize their gifts and talents.”
 
Which classroom projects/events are you known for? “The 4th graders at Key participate in a Day of Independence. For the first half of the morning, they work together in groups to build the highest possible tower out of drinking straws that can support a tennis ball. Afterwards they debrief and talk about how their group worked effectively together and areas where they could improve. Next, they complete an academic task about the Declaration of Independence in the same groups, using iPads. At the very end of the morning, the students fill out a self-assessment, and then talk with their teams and the challenges and benefits of collaboration.”
 
What personal passion brings balance to your life? I love to run and be outside. Exercise helps to clear my head and re-center my priorities.”
 
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work? I love my job and am thankful to work with such committed students, teachers, and families.”
 
How is CDS different from what you experienced as a child in school? “My students are far more confident, innovative, expressive and interested than I remember being in school. They want to learn new things for the sake of learning and to fuel their own interest rather than to perform well on a test or achieve a high grade.”

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