AAPS Updates

Katie Kipp Dohm,  PLTW lead teacher, Dicken Elementary 

Katie Kipp Dohm grew up in Bloomfield Hills with her parents, Bob and Shirlee, and older brother, Chris. While in first grade at Pine Lake Elementary (which has since been torn down), she fell in love with teaching through her teacher Mrs. Gavette.  Her third grade teacher Mrs. Heller (aka “Homework Heller”) inspired her and showed her what teaching could be. At West Hills Middle School, seventh grade ELA and social studies teacher Mr. Honeyman showed her how much impact teachers can have on their students.

Kipp Dohm followed her brother to the University of Michigan, but he followed her into education. At U-M,  Kipp Dohm majored in integrated science and minored in mathematics.  She did her student teaching at Logan Elementary with Kristi Krile, who taught her how much fun teaching can be. Krile allowed Kipp Dohm to try and fail and grow in front of her class and Dohm says she still channels Krile’s energy on days when teaching is hard. 

Having majored in science and math, Kipp Dohm found that her weakest subject to teach was ELA so she went to Eastern Michigan University to earn a master’s degree in reading.  She graduated in 2014—10 days after the birth of her first son. 

Kipp Dohm has been teaching since 2009—the height of the U.S. recession when the only job she could find was in southwest Detroit at Cesar Chavez Academy.  She taught third grade for four years there and recalls that while the kids were great, the location was rough and she tired of hearing gunshots from her classroom.  She then relocated to South Pointe Scholars in Ypsilanti where she spent two years teaching fifth grade and one year teaching sixth grade math. When she was assigned to teach middle school another year, Kipp Dohm decided to relocate again and came to AAPS, where she has taught Project Lead the way for the past four years.

She lives in the Haisley neighborhood with her husband Joe, sons Linus, 4,  and Gregor, 2, and dog Molly, 11.

What made you want to become a Project Lead the Way lead teacher?

Before I came to Ann Arbor to teach PLTW I was assigned to teach middle school math for a second year. I knew my passion was elementary and science so I followed my passion. 

What is it you most want parents to know about PLTW?

PLTW will challenge your student to problem solve and think deeper. Help your student be successful by letting them fail and try again and grow!

What was always written on your report card in grade school?

“Katie is a joy to have in the room.” 

When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?

During my first year of teaching, I was also planning my wedding. The whole year feels like a blur. I remember being exhausted but loving it! 

What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?

Prepping for your room will fill as much time as you give it. Use and fill that time wisely. 

What made you want to become a Project Lead the Way lead teacher?

Before I came to Ann Arbor to teach PLTW I was assigned to teach middle school math for a second year. I knew my passion was elementary and science so I followed my passion. 

What is it you most want parents to know about PLTW?

PLTW will challenge your student to problem solve and think deeper. Help your student be successful by letting them fail and try again and grow!

What was always written on your report card in grade school?

“Katie is a joy to have in the room.” 

When you recall your first year of teaching, what memories stand out?

During my first year of teaching, I was also planning my wedding. The whole year feels like a blur. I remember being exhausted but loving it! 

What advice would you give to a first-year teacher?

Prepping for your room will fill as much time as you give it. Use and fill that time wisely. 

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I had the most amazing seventh grade teacher, Mr. Honeyman, who was the most inspirational teacher I have ever had. I struggled in his English class and actually earned my first C in his class.  But he cared so deeply for all of his students that I loved being in his room and learning from him. He and I are still in contact with each other. 

Which do you enjoy more? Teaching or coaching?

Teaching and coaching are so similar and so different at the same time. I have taught third, fifth, sixth and PLTW and I have coached volleyball, Girls on the Run, and robotics teams. What I love in both is teaching the kiddos a skill then letting them try it out. Watching students problem-solve and end up being successful brings me so much joy. 

What’s the best compliment anyone could give you?

“I remember when you taught me ….”

In your four years in AAPS, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning?

In my four years with the district, I have seen the power of letting go and letting the students work through a problem. 

Describe an average workday.  

I get in about 8:30 and do some quick prep before I have door duty. Then, it is off to the races! I push and pull two carts around the school to five-six different classrooms. Lunch happens at some point in the middle of the day.  Students are problem-solving, wondering, questioning, creating and I get to lead them through it all. During prep time, there is usually in-progress odds and ends on my desk either waiting to be prepared or torn apart depending on the module I am teaching. When the bell rings I finish up my last-minute projects on and head off to pick up my boys. 

What’s the happiest part of your day?

When students have struggled with something and then they get it. There is usually a happy dance that goes with it.

Favorite websites: 

https://phet.colorado.edu/ It is a whole bunch of awesome simulations that help when students can’t see the real thing in the classroom. 

Apps you can’t live without: 

Google Keep, Calendar and Sheets. It is the only way I know what to bring, where to be and when.

If you could know the definitive answer to any one question, what would that question be?

Will we be all right?

What makes teaching at  Dicken unique?

Dicken’s staff is the most diverse that I have ever worked with. 

If you could talk to your teenage self, what would you say?

Today is not the rest of your life. It is still a mantra I use when times get tough. 

What do you know about teaching now that you wish you’d known that first year?

I wish I had known how good the tables I had were. Also, how to be firm and loving at the same time. Also, how to not take everything so personally. 

How do you keep students engaged?

Hands-on projects and inspiring wonder through natural and electronic phenomena. 

How do you show school spirit?

I am a staff member that will participate in any of the special activities/ dress-up days. I think it’s fun and the kids really love to see the staff involved, too.

What is the most rewarding part of teaching?

Knowing that you are making a difference—no matter how small—in a student’s life.

What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher?

Teachers put their hearts and souls into their work. They take not only papers home but the trials and tribulations of their students. It is hard to turn off our teacher’s brain.

How do you recharge?

Every night my husband and I meet up on the couch to talk about the day or just enjoy a show with each other. I find that if we miss it for a few nights life feels unsettled.

How do you spend your summers?

Over the summer I love spending time with my boys. This past summer I potty trained my youngest! It made for a long summer. I also love to raise monarch butterflies over the summer. We raised and released over 50 this summer!

What’s most exciting about your professional life right now? Your personal life?

Being part of the 5th-grade Robotics Competition has been really awesome. Students get really excited. And this year we have to defend our champion status! 

At home, we are happy to be diaper free! 

 

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