By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor
Kim Garber grew up in Michigan, and has been a resident of Ann Arbor for more than 20 years. She earned a bachelor’s of engineering degree from Michigan Technological University, a master’s of engineering from Oakland University, and a master of art’s from the University of Michigan, with certification in physics and mathematics.
This is Garber’s third year teaching at Pathways. Prior to that, she taught for a year at Ypsilanti High School and three years at Kensington Woods High School.
Before becoming a teacher, Garber worked at Ford Motor Company for 23 years in a variety of engineering related positions. She enjoys sharing her engineering experience and passion for solving real world problems incorporating math, science and technology. As a parent of three children, she also understands the necessity of teaching in a relevant and inspirational manner.
What inspired you to become a teacher? I want to help young adults in their pursuit of technical careers. I work really hard to break down barriers, exposing students to different career paths, while supporting them in their journey. I also want students to see how math and science are relevant today, beyond what the textbook teaches, and how technical careers which utilize math/science are in high demand today.
Why technology? Technology is already a part of our every day life, and is progressing so rapidly it is mind-boggling. Just Google “top ten technologies” and you will find everything from immune engineering- gene therapy, self-teaching robots, cars that drive themselves, and nanotechnology applications such as wearable biometric clothing. Today, we have 3D printers in our classroom. I want to prepare our students to be able to positively impact their community and participate in these exciting developments.
What was your Plan B? I didn’t have a back up plan. I just knew that teaching was what I was called to do at this point in my life.
How has working in the engineering field for 23 years impacted your second career as a teacher? Working in industry has reinforced the core values and skills necessary for students to be contributing, productive citizens. Critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving skills are just a few of the 21st century skills required to be successful. Engineering (problem-based) projects enable students to achieve higher cognitive levels and Higher-Order Thinking (comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).
Do you miss your former life at Ford Motor Company? I had the pleasure of working with many gifted and talented professionals, and over the years many became close friends. As difficult as it was to say goodbye, I truly enjoy the teaching profession and the flexibility it offers to pursue my passion related to robotics, computer graphics, and exploring new technologies.
Describe an average workday. There is no such thing as an average workday at Pathways. Every day we bring our best, prepare for the unexpected, and “roll with” whatever is happening in the moment. Sometimes the best teaching moments occur when we least expect it.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about teaching? About learning? The most important thing I’ve learned about teaching is that before you can deliver academic content. you must first meet the student’s needs. For some students, it may be helping them to feel comfortable and welcomed in the classroom, and for others, it may be providing them with strategies to overcome obstacles or prior deficiencies. We know every student has their own unique learning style, but recognizing that style and meeting their needs is where the profession of teaching turns into an art.
Favorite websites: Technical websites such as:
Apps you can’t live without: I like to check the weather & traffic apps or apps that deliver the news or urgent messages in a quick, efficient manner.
Three favorite devices: Computer, cell phone, and 3D printer.
How do you stay organized? It’s in my DNA. I love to organize things.
What is unique about teaching at Pathways? Pathways offers a unique learning environment with small class sizes, enabling us to really know all of our students in a very personal, professional way. The Pathways staff work diligently to engage students, support their personal growth, and help students pursue specific career paths such as the Zingerman’s Internship program. Since our school is relatively small, we can easily collaborate cross-curriculum and have quick access to a wide variety of student support services.
What is the most rewarding part of teaching? The most rewarding part of teaching is meeting students after they have left high school and hearing their success stories.
What do you most remember about being in high school? I took my first drafting/design class because my friend did not want to be the only female. I was very anxious and had told the instructor I had no idea what I was doing. My instructor pulled me aside and said, “Relax, its my job to teach you!” Because of him, I became a draftsman and later ended up pursuing an engineering career. I aspire to be this kind of teacher.
What was always written on your report card in grade school? “Quiet/shy.”
What has surprised you most about the profession? How supportive my peers are with one another and how hard everyone works to support each student.
What do you wish everyone realized about the work of a teacher? It’s a lot harder than it appears. We do so much more than just deliver academic content. Often we are a sounding board, facilitator, role model, counselor, and advocator.
If you could change one thing about public education, what would it be? Continue pursuing ways to make it more relevant to what skills are required in the workforce.
What would you tell a college student considering becoming a teacher? To work outside of the education system first, so that when students challenge, “Why do I need this?” they can give an authentic answer.
What do you like to do when you’re not working? Read books, work out, run/hike.