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Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet Kristin Alkire and Hear About My New Job

Earlier this summer, I was asked if I would be interested in writing for a local magazine.

"Sure,"I shrugged.  But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.

Like, to the point of nearly bursting.

So when they decided to let me write on a trial run, I was a wee bit more than ecstatic.  If you don't believe me, just ask Jake.  I may have been unbearable.  Cute, I hope, but unbearable.

My first interview couldn't have been sweeter.

In the blazing heat, she drove to my house so I could keep the boys at home.  She sat in my sweltering dining room and drank coffee - um, how could I not like her? She drinks COFFEE - and an hour later, when she went to leave, I felt the stranger that arrived at my door had left a friend.

So much so, that when she went to shake my hand I was thinking hug - but honestly, who hugs in 100 degree heat? - so there I was, arm in the air, bringing it down to a dramatic hand shake.

And while I was sitting at my table, in my house, with my four boys packing for the beach, I was trying to think, "be professional. be professional. be professional."

Sometimes, professional is over rated.

I sat down to write about our meeting.  But I just couldn't keep it to the short amount of words that they asked for.  There was too much to share.

And so, here on my blog, I will give you the article that did not get published.

Kristin Alkire left her kids at home with her husband and drove out to a little non air conditioned farmhouse on a day that was slated to reach 104 degrees because that is just the type of person she is.

Kristin has been teaching Biology at Otsego High School for the past 11 years and is also the Department Chair of the High School Science Department. She was nominated for Look Who’s Talking by a fellow colleague, Holly McCaw, who wrote, “Science isn’t usually the hot subject among students, but they love her and rave about how she makes it all fun and interesting and she’s inspired many students. I recently interviewed our school’s Top Ten students and I would say half of them mentioned her in who they would like to thank or who inspired them.”

The 2011/12 school year started on a high note for Kristin.  Kristin was one of the recipients of the 2011 Yale Educator Award.  To receive the award, a student from Yale must nominate one of their former teachers. “I feel very honored to have received this award,” Kristin was quoted as saying on the school website,  “What makes it really special, though, is the fact that Marisa Kaugars nominated me for the honor.  She is an absolutely incredible young woman and it means so much to me that she took the time out of her busy summer to complete the nomination.  This award is really more of a reflection of Marisa than it is on me.”

As she sips her coffee, Kristin laughs.  “The funny thing is, I didn’t want to be a teacher!”  Both her parents are retired teachers and while she loves them and admired their work, she wanted to be her own person.  She began her college education at Hope College as pre-med.  But it didn’t take her long to switch to teaching and she has never regretted her choice.

At the end of the 2011/12 school year, Kristin was nominated as the Teacher Honoree.  “I stood up to tell them I hope they all have the opportunity to do what they love because it means a lot to do what you love, but I just ended up crying”, she admits.

Having played basketball for Hope College, she coached basketball and track for Otsego.  But this year she and her husband (who teaches 8th grade science at Hamilton) resigned from their separate coaching commitments.  “It was a difficult decision,” she shared, “But we just needed more family time.”

Kristin and Nathan celebrate ten years of marriage this year and are busy with their four year old daughter, Zoe and one year old son, Brendan.  I asked this 32 year old how she keeps up with all she has going on.  “It’s challenging.  Thankfully I have a great level of understanding with my husband because he is a teacher as well.  I try to always be productive, trying to utilize my time as best I can.  My parents are retired and a great help.  I have a great support system.”

“The relationships you develop with the students, who I call ‘my kids’, do make a difference,” she explains. “Education is tough right now because there is a lot of negativity so I go back to making connections with my students and focusing on making a difference for them.”

But, if you click the link ( ), you will read the article that DID get published.  You will see an ancient old photo of me that I surely hope will not scar you.  And you will SEE Kristin.  The photo of her is amazing....

She is amazing.

To follow the Women's Lifestyle Magazine of Greater Kalamazoo, just like them on facebook.  You can find copies of the magazine FREE in many areas around the Kalamazoo area.  My good friend Korene found one for me already and dropped it off at the library.  She is a dear.  But maybe she just needed some Biggby coffee...they are a pick up site for the magazine.

To check out the work of the photographer (who I will officially meet this week), like her facebook page or follow her on twitter.

I thought this could be fun for you and I.  Because now I can keep introducing you to amazing people and places in my local area.  Really, this is going to be way fun part time job - I think - if they keep me on.

But don't you worry, Sue and I will still be doing Praise and Coffee Magazine.  As if we could stop doing that....

Thanks for being excited for me on this new adventure!

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