Kaitlyn Christensen
Kaitlyn Christensen

August 7, 2017

Unlike the rest of her family, Kaitlyn Christensen never saw herself as a teacher.

Then she traveled to another continent, where she discovered her passion for teaching English and helping others.

Christensen’s mom, Shelly Christensen, teaches second grade in Harlan, and her brother, Dustin, is a first-grade teacher and co-head varsity football coach in Audubon. So when Christensen began her freshman year at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, she declared a biology major, and told her mom there was no way she would be a teacher.

During Christensen’s sophomore year of college, she took a trip to Tanzania, Africa, where she worked at all-girls’ schools and orphanages for a month. During that trip, she began to second-guess her biology degree. She enjoyed being around kids and realized how much she loves teaching English.

“I got home, and I was like, ‘I’m going to be a teacher,’” she said. “That was my deciding factor. When I transferred to Iowa State University, I started education classes, and I just loved it from the beginning.”

Christensen enjoyed reading growing up. When she was a child, she’d park under a tree with only a book while her parents golfed and would be entertained the entire day.

She said she wants to use her love for English to teach students the importance reading and writing will have on their entire lives.

Christensen­­­ graduated from Iowa State in December 2015 and began her teaching career at IKM-Manning, the school she graduated from in 2011. There, she taught sixth- through eighth-grade language arts and high school newspaper. She coached junior-varsity volleyball and middle-school basketball, along with softball at Audubon.

This will be her first time teaching high school students.

“I’m a little nervous, just because I’ve been at middle school, and I was at a school that I was comfortable with,” she said. “I’m really excited because Carroll is an awesome school district, and I’ve known forever that Carroll was always a good district. When I saw the opening, I just knew that Carroll will have good supporting teachers, a good administration, so when I interview­ed, I just knew.”

This fall, Christensen will teach sophomore English, senior writing and exploring literature. She also will coach the freshman girls basketball team.

Her classroom is set up and organized, so she feels good about the new school year beginning.

“I’m ready to start something new,” she said.

Every year, the idea that she can change whatever she wants — whether it be her teaching style or what she teaches — has Christensen eager to return to school.

“I can always mix it up and connect with kids in a different way,” she said. “I’m never going to have the same kids walk into my door. You will always get new experiences and learn different things from them.”