This week we spotlight, Katie Bruns, 3rd grade teacher at Brookside Charter school. She is joining KC Kids Unite for the first time this year, and we are thrilled to have her and her students’ participation in this work!
Katie describes her students as curious and very aware beings. They are full of energy and often misunderstood because of it. They have great strength with many of them overcoming tremendous adversity. She is in her 7th year, and this is her toughest and best year all wrapped up into one bundle. Her students are very curious to learn about people and how they are different, but also have expressed some uncomfortably in this as well. She’s hoping to enlighten them in this process.
As a teacher, Katie is committed to helping her class find just how powerful they really are. Many of them say things that would make an outsider think they feel hopeless. Katie is a teacher who wants every student to know they are important, that they can make a difference in this world, and that they matter. She has so much gratitude for each group of new students she gets as they teach her new things each year. This year, she has learned the real definition of patience and has become a better teacher and person because of it. She’s been forced to find balance between the academic learning side of school and the development and encouragement of the whole child.
In Katie’s class learning comes alive when it feels powerful and purposeful. It makes her feel like there is not anywhere else in the world she should be.
She establishes community as trusting partnerships. Before she always thought a community was where a person was raised, a group of people that came from the same place, raised in similar ways, and doing similar things. After moving to Kansas City and falling in love with her school, students, their families, and other organizations that she’s involved in, she has learned to understand that community can be any group of people, large or small coming together for the greater good of a cause. Her school and involvement in many different organizations in Kansas City has changed and shaped her definition of community. Teaching, feeding the homeless, helping at Harvesters, college organizations, alumni boards, NAATE, GKCWP… each thing that she does changes, enhances, and develops not only the definition of community but the feeling of it.
Because of this, her students have a very large sense of pride and community within her classroom and in the school for the most part. She would like her students to take a greater sense of self pride and acceptance in the ability to be a part of a greater community, in the school, in their neighborhood, and around the community. Factors that contribute to being a part of a community are some of the things that her students often talk about. They talk about trusting others, feeling safe to be themselves, feeling safe to look or talk the way they do in public, feeling accepted and cared for.
Katie was drawn to KC Kids Unite because of the mission they have in place. The idea of encouraging kids to understand their value and other kids’ value (even when they are different than you) is a goal sometimes hard to achieve outside the classroom doors. She hopes her students learn about themselves and others and use that knowledge to see their community of peers differently than they did before going through KC Kids Unite.
Welcome to the project, Katie!