By Teachers, For Teachers
James Monroe Middle School
Albequerque, New Mexico
Kim Covill earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in Spanish and Ibero-American Studies. She organized group tours in Spain, and currently spends summers in Central America. She is president and a founder of From Books to Brilliance, a non profit formed to create and maintain rural libraries in impoverished villages. This year Goodwill Industries awarded her an Edgar Award for Human Services, Volunteer of the year for the State of New Mexico.
Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
Without any doubt my favorite teacher was Mr. Howard Elliot. He was the band director at Chippewa Falls High School in Wisconsin. He demanded the students’ best behavior and undivided attention. He was strict; he challenged us; he worked us…and we loved him for it. Our band performed to the best of our abilities and behaved like professionals! Thank you, Mr. Elliot!
What are three things every teacher should own?
Every teacher needs a car with a big trunk, a sense of humor, and forty hours a day!
If you could have any person (living, dead or fictional) as a principal, who would it be?
I would love to teach again under the direction of Dr. Stoughton, who served as principal at Valley High School in Albuquerque for many years. Though I taught only one year while he was there, he exemplified a principal who cared for the students and faculty alike.
What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
I longed to be a professional flute player, but was not nearly good enough!!!
Describe your all-time favorite lesson/unit activity.
Students write and illustrate age-appropriate books intended for children in impoverished areas of Latin America. These books are dedicated to the recipients, bound and hard-covered by a publisher, and delivered to the children. My Spanish classes created literature for children living in an orphanage in El Salvador and for students in central Nicaragua.
Bridges of Books…by kids…for kids is a service project that began in 2006 at James Monroe Middle School. In order to engender interest and enthusiasm I show pictures and video footage of children, housing, and schools in the Nicaraguan villages of Mulukuku and Santa Rita. My students compare and contrast their lives with those of children living in villages that lack electricity, potable water, indoor plumbing, and adequate housing. They are shocked and perplexed that such living conditions exist in the world. They become fascinated with the possibility of helping. Students develop ideas for their writing project, considering the possibilities by assessing their own cumulative knowledge of Spanish.
What is the greatest misconception about teachers?
The greatest misconception and one that makes us all laugh, is that our workday ends at 3:05 in the afternoon!
What stereotype about teachers is true?
It is true that we thoroughly enjoy our summer break!!
How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?
I didn’t know. Encouraged to give it a try by a friend, I began to teach in my late thirties. I discovered that I liked it!