Kaitlin founded Classes 4 Classes, Inc. a 501(c)3, knowing the importance of teaching the youngest members of our society, our K-8 students, the skills and lessons associated with positive social change. Classes 4 Classes aims to teach every student in the United States a social curriculum: compassion, caring, kindness, empathy, and consideration, through active engagement. Kaitlin is an international keynote speaker. Has authored a book called, Choosing Hope: Moving Forward from Life’s Darkest Hours. Is a professor at Bay Path University. Was named as a Glamour Woman of the Year, and a L’Oreal Woman of Worth. Received the Dedicated Teacher Award from the Chicago International Conference on Education. Blogs for the Huffington Post, and has received two honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters. Finally, Kaitlin formerly taught 1st grade at Sandy Hook Elementary School in CT.
- Kaitlin, did you always know that you wanted to serve others and help today’s youth?
Always (see next question). It’s incredible now to see how it has evolved in my life. I feel very fortunate to be an Educator in many different facets. I am a college professor, a writer, an author, a speaker, a Director of a non-profit focused on teaching kindness. I get to teach and educate in many different ways, and for me, it’s a dream come true.
- Can you walk us through how you first got started in your career path?
I knew I wanted to be a Teacher when I was 5. My earliest memories, are of wanting to be a teacher. I began acting out my dreams, by teaching my stuffed animals, and my friends in the neighborhood. I always knew this was what I wanted to do. As an adolescent I worked in every job possible working with children: mother’s helper, babysitter, nanny, camp counselor, mentor, reading buddy, tutor, study hall monitor, summer teacher-I knew this was what I wanted to do. It never wavered. At 17 I went off to The University of Connecticut, where I was (gratefully) accepted into the prestigious NEAG School of Education. I graduated at 22 with my Master of Elementary Education. I couldn’t wait to get started! Persistence is key in meeting any goal. I taught in a typical classroom setting for 7 years, and I have been teaching ‘abroad’, or in many different capacities, for 4 years.
- How did you handle the bumps in the road? Were there any moments when you wondered if all your hard work was worth it?
Of course, there still are bumps in the road. What is important is persevering in the face of detours, no matter what. There is a poem that has always been a source of great strength and light, when I find myself in the midst of a dark or trying time. I read the words, and I put one foot forward again, perhaps it could help someone else:
People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway. -Kent Keith
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
I attribute every blessing in my life, to two things: Faith and Determination.
If you want anything in life it takes great commitment, work ethic and drive-these all boil down to your determination to get something done. However, none of it is possible without Faith. In yourself, in your vision, in a higher power (God or whatever you believe) helping you to attain your goals… ‘Have a little faith’.
- What do teens and pre-teens need today more than anything else?
To believe in themselves, and their abilities. It is so easy as a young person to get caught up in what everyone else is doing, in what they see on TV or in the media. Social media can play a large role in shaping someone. I would like to see our youth embracing who they are first, being confident in that. Not conforming or trying to fit in to what they believe someone else wants them to be.
- What would you tell a teen or pre-teen who was struggling?
Whether you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.
I had a sign on my desk at school and this is what it said. I always wanted my first graders to know that they could do whatever they put their minds to. Your attitude, approach and belief in yourself is everything. No matter what you are going through in your life, you can always choose how to react to it, and how to proceed forward. Believe you can. Dream big. The sky is truly the limit.
- Kaitlin, what else do you want to tell us about what you do and what you want to eventually be doing?
I have 2 goals that drive me every single morning when I wake up:
-To expand Classes 4 Classes to every single classroom in our great country.
-To share the message of hope and the power of choice with as many audiences as I can!
- Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
My goals for 2017 are:
-To add to the over 150,000 incredible individuals whom I have had the honor of speaking to.
-To travel to the 9 states I have not yet been!
One should always have a goal.
- How can people get in touch with you if they have additional questions?
I would love to hear from readers! Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your time Kaitlin, and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Award-winning author, speaker and educator