Family Before Anything

Story by Ashlyn Woody, Walker Valley Freshman

Mrs. Kristine Beasley is a ninth grade English teacher at Walker Valley. She was born in Hollywood, Florida, but moved to Athens, Tennessee, when she was around ten years old. She is currently teaching English in place of Mrs. Garrett who is on maternity leave.

The following are questions that Mrs. Beasley answered.

Question: How long have you been teaching? How did you get into teaching?

Answer: I have been teaching for thirteen years. I first wanted to be a dental hygienist, but I walked into my first test for A and P and there were fifty bones and you had to identify. I freaked out! I walked into my counselor’s office and changed my major.

Question: What school did you attend? What degrees have you earned?

Answer: I spent eight years off and on at Tennessee Weslyan College. I had a child and stayed home with her, but when she was old enough, she got a backpack and went to school with me. The professors loved her. She drew as I studied Shakespeare. I earned a Bachelor of Science: Secondary Education English, K-8, and Advanced Placement Literature and Composition.

Question: Who is in your family?

Answer: Husband of twenty-five years, Bill; Kaite–twenty-two–graduates from Bryan College May 14 with a Communication Degree; Chloe–fifteen–sophomore at McMinn County High; and Claire-–fourteen–eighth grade at Athens Middle School.

Question: If you could share anything with the world, what would it be?

Answer: It would be that the past and both the trials and triumphs make you the person you are now. At forty-five, for me to not acknowledge the bad as well as the things I have achieved, then that would negate who I am. I am a product of every good, bad, funny, sad, encouraging and devastating thing that has happened to me over the years. I would not want to change my past because it has shaped me into the person I now am.

Question: What do you want your students to remember about you?

Answer: I want my students to remember that beyond the knowledge and funny stories that I genuinely cared about each of them. I want them to remember that “I can’t” is not an excuse. Everyone can. “I won’t” is an excuse, and you don’t have to agree, but you do have to try and respect one another.

Question: What do you think your main priority is in teaching your students?

Answer: My main priority in teaching my students is knowledge. Knowledge comes in many forms. I have taught classes from seventh grade to twelfth grade English and A. P. Literature and Composition. Each class, each student absorbs knowledge in different ways. Knowledge is not just book smart, it is learning how to express oneself through writing, it is in developing a relationship with an author or book, or even with your peers or yourself.

Question: If someone had told you when you were in high school that you would be teaching now, what would you have said?

Answer: Many of my teachers have said they knew I would be a teacher. My love for English should have not surprised me that I would become an English teacher.

Question: Who has been your greatest inspiration–in teaching or life in general?

Answer: My greatest inspiration within the realm of teaching is without a doubt my fifth grade teacher–Mrs. Ethel Davis. She realized that students all learn in different ways. She would travel over the summer and bring souvenirs back from her travels to entice those tactile learners. She made learning fun by incorporating her travels and her personal stories. Her laugh was infectious and modeled for me what an interactive teacher could be.

Question: Who has had the greatest influence in your life and/or career?

Answer: My greatest influence has been my husband. We got married before I finished at Tennessee Weslyan College, which I do not suggest, and he is seven years older than I and he already was working having graduated from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He encouraged me to continue school. Even after we had a child, he pushed for me to return to Tennessee Weslyan College and continue my studies. When I wanted to quit he wouldn’t let me. He has been my biggest supporter and my greatest encourager. We just recently celebrated twenty-five years of marriage.

Question: What outside interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy? What do you want people to know about you outside of Walker Valley?

Answer: My husband and I own a landscape business, so naturally I enjoy spending time outside working in our yard. Both our daughters, who are still at home, dance, so I enjoy watching them as well as my youngest plays volleyball so we enjoy her games also. Mostly in the summer we spend our time out back in our pool! Outside of Walker Valley, people should know that my family is my number one passion and my proudest accomplishment.

Question: What is your favorite memory as a teacher?

Answer: One year, at the end of the year, I had taught three classes of seniors as well as three classes of juniors. Every year I wrote a personal letter to my seniors encouraging them as well as recalling fond memories I had of them over the year. My “kids” decided to change the tables on me and they wrote me letters. Some of them made me laugh while others were so heartfelt that I wept. I kept every one of those letters and still read them from time to time.

Question: What is your funniest moment or your biggest mishap at school?

Answer: The biggest mishap/funniest moment that has happened to me actually involved a current fellow teacher here at Walker Valley. On April 1, I walked into my classroom and my entire room was empty! Everything was gone, desks, posters, even the garbage can. I was dumbfounded and took off in terror trying to locate anything. I walked in the gym and my entire classroom was set up in the middle of the gym floor. My desk, twenty student desks, books, posters, plants, file cabinets, even the garbage can was in the gym. A perfect replica of my room. Mr. Craig Long and some of our students thought a great April Fool’s Day joke would be to physically relocate my classroom! Over the years, it has become more funny but that morning I was completely scared straight.

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