Henrico’s Top Teachers – Catherine “Kitti” Huber
Skipwith E.S., second grade
You might say that Skipwith Elementary is home to Catherine “Kitti” Huber, and not just because she attended the school as a child or because she’s taught there for 12 years – or even because her daughter, Tara, also has taught there for the past four years.
In reality, Skipwith is home because of the students she’s taught and the community she’s watched grow up.
“I’ve been in [teaching] long enough now that many of my students have become adults,” says Huber, who teaches second grade at the school and whose career spans nearly three decades, including 28 years in Henrico County (at Ratcliffe and Fair Oaks in addition to Skipwith). “One of my first-graders is a professor in college now. I’ve watched little people become big people. It’s really amazing sometimes how similar the adults who come back to you are as the children you taught.”
One of the great joys of teaching young students, Huber says, is witnessing their reactions when they realize they’ve learned something. Reading, in particular, often draws the most noteworthy reactions.
“They normally realize that they can read when they’re not in school,” Huber says. “I’ve had so many kids come in one day and say, ‘Guess what happened to me this weekend!’”
When Huber’s own children attended Skipwith, she worried that its lack of diversity might create a world view for them that was too narrow.
“And now we’re one of the most diverse elementary schools in the whole county,” she says.
Huber recalls a snack break in her classroom several years ago, during which a half-dozen students – each a different ethnicity – sat down together and passed a small chalkboard around, taking turns writing “Hello” in their native languages.
“I watched those kids and I thought, They’re taking turns, they’re sharing, they’re relating to each other. If we could do this everywhere all over the world, all the issues that we have could be resolved.”
To parents and colleagues alike, Huber’s ability to motivate students is second to none.
“She challenges her students to think and solve problems instead of just memorizing facts,” one parent wrote in a nomination letter. “The skills they are learning from her will last a lifetime.”
Huber challenges her students to make any situation a learning situation. She intentionally makes spelling and grammatical mistakes on letters home and asks students to identify the mistakes, correct them and write both pieces of information on an index card. Once they’ve turned in 10 cards, they earn 10 minutes of free time.
Students who complete reading comprehension tests as part of an ongoing accelerated reading program earn a free t-shirt after they’ve completed a specified number. Those who earn their shirts before Huber herself does receive a break from homework. Three already have done so, and one student didn’t stop there.
“He’s been lugging around this 412-page book,” Huber says.
Huber also has played an integral role in the school’s Destination Imagination program (formerly Odyssey of the Mind), a program that encourages teamwork, problem solving and creativity by presenting challenges for teams of students to complete during a period of several months. She coached the school’s team in the 1980s as a parent, then started a team at Ratcliffe as a teacher and re-started the Skipwith program when she returned to the school. Today she serves on the Destination Imagination regional board.
Huber meets a group of friends once a month for lunch. Most are retired teachers and former coworkers of hers, and they often wonder why she hasn’t joined their ranks yet.
“Everybody is saying, Isn’t it time yet?” Huber says. “And I don’t think it is.”
Citizen Staff Reports 04/25/2016
The sign up period for the Richmond Community Solar Co-op will close on April 30. Nearly 150 homeowners and businesses have joined the group to save money and make going solar easier. The group has started installations and is working with VA SUN to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar.
“If you’ve ever thought about going solar, this is a great opportunity to do so,” said Sekar Veerappan Co-op member and the group’s first installation. “Working with the group helps members learn about going solar and make an informed decision.” > Read more.
Citizen Staff Reports 04/22/2016
The YMCA of Greater Richmond will host its "Healthy Kids Day" April 29-30 at all local branches.
The event is part of the Y's national initiative to improve families' health and well-being.
Each event features games, healthy snacks, arts and crafts and physical activities, among other events. Its goal is to motivate and teach families how to develop healthy routines at home. > Read more.
Another great weekend of outdoor activities awaits you in Henrico! Walk MS, an annual charity run for multiple sclerosis, and the third annual Movin’ & Shakin’ 5K, to benefit the VCU Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center, both take place in Innsbrook tomorrow. Another charity event, the CASA Superhero Run, will be held at St. Joseph’s Villa. On Sunday, live music can be found at Belmont Recreation Center, featuring the John Winn Quartet, and at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, where pianist Sylvia Cooper will be performing. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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