Chamblee’s New Language Arts Teacher has the “Write” Idea

Sarah Marcus, Staff Writer

Chamblee’s new language arts teacher, Kate Wilkins, will continue her seventh year of teaching here at Chamblee High now. This is only her third year of teaching in Georgia.

“I went to the University of Florida in Gainesville and I studied advertising and journalism […]. When I graduated, I moved to Tampa, Florida and worked in advertising […]. I made commercials for Publix and was an account coordinator, and I worked my way up to an account executive,” said Wilkins. 

After working at her previous jobs, she decided to use her writing and communication skills to go in a different direction: teaching. 

“I went to Fort Lauderdale, and I did marketing. I [also] took classes at night to become a teacher, so I started teaching in Broward County,” said Wilkins.

She used the skills for writing she learned from the college of Journalism to help her build on the knowledge she obtained from her teaching classes.

“So my degree was in journalism, and I was very shy. So it’s kind of hard for me to express myself verbally, or it was growing up. So, I got into writing. That’s how I was able to put myself out there and also to connect with others and see how other people think and feel through reading,” said Wilkins.

Surprisingly, Wilkins had not even been fond of language arts growing up. 

“I actually did not like English classes growing up, hated the subjectivity of it. I hated how you weren’t sure what the answer was. No one ever really told me,” said Wilkins. “When I decided to become a teacher, I had taken so many English classes from college. I got into this subject because I wanted to teach people how to find the right answer. I wanted to teach people how to express themselves, and to look at reading and writing as something more fun versus a chore.”

Wilkins now uses this ideology to teach reading and writing at Chamblee, all the while pushing herself and her students to have a more enjoyable experience with ELA. 

“The most fun thing to teach is anything literature. But through teaching through the years, I have started to love to teach writing and editing that language because who doesn’t like revision editing?” said Wilkins.

When teaching her students these lessons, she motivates them and gives them lots of encouragement.

“I feel like anyone can write but people don’t think so. You can either follow a formula and then you can at least get it done, or you can take that and you can take it to another level,” said Wilkins.

Over the years of teaching multiple grade levels, she has seen lots of students’ writing and personalities progress. Going from Kittredge to Chamblee, Wilkins gets to see previous students and their other family members years later. 

“The similarity is funny to see the same last name. A lot of the younger siblings of students are sophomores,” said Wilkins

Wilkins also gets to experience an easier transition from Kittridge to Chamblee based on the insight into the community and school district she accumulated. 

“I live in Brookhaven and I know kids. [I] raise all the kids that end up going to the magnet program here, so I have that foundation. And this school, I know our principal. I taught her children, and I just knew a lot about this community and I really am impressed by the Brookhaven community,” said Wilkins.

Aside from seeing familiar faces and knowing DeKalb protocols, the biggest growth Wilkins saw from her switch from middle school to high school was the students maturing.

“You see more personality in the students here. You see their drive and they start to have goals for their futures. Instead of just being told what to do next, there’s drive behind it. It’s pretty interesting and cool to see the individuality of students come out in their education,” Wilkins said. “I’m very impressed by how people have these goals, the clubs that they join, […] the sport that they join, and what they’re doing to set themselves up for the future. It seems like a lot of stress and pressure on you guys, so it’s pretty cool and inspiring to see that as a teacher.”

The options available to students were also a big reason Wilkins decided to transfer to Chamblee.

“There’s really no other school or community like [it]. This area is truly dedicated. […] It’s very impressive and I want to work in a place where people have the ability to have their individuality and to pursue their desires instead of like, ‘Oh, we only have this program.’ We have artists, we have writers, we have engineers, we have future lawyers, business people. I mean, it’s just the whole doctors, scientists. It’s the whole spectrum here, and I’m very impressed by what that has to offer.”

Similar to her student’s extracurriculars and clubs, Wilkins also has some hobbies she does outside of school. Along with literature, she has a liking for being active and in nature. 

“I’m a huge reader for fun. I love reading fantasy. I play basketball too, not as much, but that’s what I like to do for fun when I have free time. I like to go to spin classes and I’m a huge hiker. I go hiking all the time.”

Apart from those activities, Wilkins also enjoys volunteering and spending time with animals. She likes to help out at animal rescue centers when she is not helping her students. 

“I spend my weekends driving for Georgia Transport. I did it in Florida. Basically, rescue dogs who have adopted homes up North, I sign up for a leg of their drive […]. So I’ll pick up like four lab puppies in the border of Alabama and I’ll drive them to Atlanta, then someone else will do the next leg and then they’ll make it all the way to New Jersey where they have a home.”

By driving these puppies to their new owners, Wilkins is preparing them for their future and making sure the opportunity to have the best possible life is open to them. She does the same thing for her students by teaching them language arts fundamentals and giving them advice and lessons to adhere to. Becoming a teacher has impacted so many of her students, and her students have reciprocated the support. 

“[Teaching] has made me a better person. It’s given me so much entertainment, some people are hilarious, and it’s given me so much drive. It’s provided me with the ability to connect with others that I normally wouldn’t,” said Wilkins.