As surprising as it may sound, many teachers have not always enjoyed learning. Just ask Kathy Hagee, who has taught for 15 years. “Learning was never fun for me. I struggled with reading all through high school and into my undergraduate studies,” Kathy recalls. It was only later in her life, while pursuing a graduate degree in education, that she discovered a passion for learning.
Kathy believes her past struggles with studying have made her a better teacher today. As the History Chair and an AP US History teacher at Rolling Hills Preparatory and Renaissance Schools in San Pedro, CA, Kathy loves learning about American history. “A lot of my students come to me hating the thought of studying history because of all the words. I am committed to making those words have meaning for my students even if I have to dress like a camp follower or draw pictures all over my boards during a lecture.”
In 2012, after five years of applying, Kathy was awarded the James Madison Fellowship and returned to graduate school for a second masters. “I never gave up,” says Kathy. “I am not ashamed it took five years because some of the best things in life come after years and years of dedication and work.”
Kathy’s favorite quote came from one of her own students during a brainstorming session: “Hero. If you can’t find one, be one.”
“I think it is empowering for students to know that they can lead through serving others,” says Kathy. “The best gift we can give to others is our time and service.”