Caroline Kirkpatrick didn't think she would become a teacher, even though she loved caring for children growing up.
She went into the oil industry instead, as a lab technician. Kirkpatrick says "and very quickly I discovered that my favorite part of that job was teaching new lab technicians how to run the equipment, how to do the tests."
Kirkpatrick wanted to give teaching a try, so she transitioned to an outdoor education program, and started substituting. But she was unsure if she was making the right choice. "I was a very sensitive child, I was extremely shy, you would never know that now, but I was very shy and sensitive to how my teachers treated the students."
After an "aha" moment with physically challenged student, Kirkpatrick knew she had found her calling, one she uses to offer children a safe place to learn. Falling Water Elementary School Principal Lea Ann Burk says "students know its ok to make a mistake and they're still going to be loved and cared for and I think what that results in is high achieving students."
"I've just always felt like this is a place where children spend a large portion of their growing up years and I do my best to give them a reason to be joyful every single day," says Kirkpatrick.
She tries to celebrate the accomplishments her students... highlighting everything from those who know how to tie their shoes -- to those who can write a complete sentence.
She encourages her class to be independent thinkers, by writing stories of their own based on themes covered during story time. "When they're making something, its their own product and its real to them, they're going to be much more invested in it," she says.
Kirkpatrick jokes that she'll know she did her job well... if one of her students ends of being an author and dedicates a book to her.