Geography teacher heads off map |

Geography teacher heads off map

While teaching healthy dieting and lifestyle at a Nutrisystem center, Kathleen Brandon noticed that she had an affinity for instruction. "All of a sudden it just hit me," she said. She wanted to teach.

Without further wait she enrolled at the University of Utah and received her competency certificates in several subjects and then went to get her teaching certificate at Westminster College. She was assigned her first student teaching job in Park City in 1994 and she has taught here ever since.

At the time, Brandon said Park City was a much more intimate community. "It was small and you knew everybody," she commented. She remembered opening every year with a luncheon in the park.

Although middle school students are notorious for their hormone-driven behavior, as a mother of three children, one of whom attended Treasure Mountain during her tenure, Brandon had little trouble keeping discipline. Although she dislikes having to maintain control, she said that it has always been relatively easy for her thanks to her years of experience.

Even though she possessed a wide variety of certifications, she taught English initially, a subject in which she had not been trained. After two years of teaching at Treasure Mountain Middle School, she went on to help open Ecker Hill Middle School where she stayed for eight years. The faculty that opened, Ecker Hill, she remembered, was a tight-knit group that hung together.

Brandon also helped institute an archaeology program with the Bureau of Land Management. She trained other teachers on a unit meant to give students an appreciation of the cultural resources. Although Brandon mostly helped the program on a local basis, she assisted the transition to a national drive.

Brandon later returned to Treasure Mountain where she thought it would be fun to teach geography. As the school allowed her to teach AP Geography, she said that she was really allowed a lot of freedom. Her students, she added, are very bright and she enjoys their interaction.

That said, Brandon wondered if she would enjoy beginning her career as a new teacher today. "The bureaucracy has become rampant," she said and teachers are expected to jump through multiple hoops to satisfy local and national expectations. Her advice to new teachers is to focus on parents and students. If teachers develop a good rapport with parents, their careers will flow much smoother, she said.

Brandon will spend her retirement in warmer climes. Although she will spend her summers in Park City, where she has been a resident for years, she plans to spend the winters in Salt Lake City and California. As much as she enjoys Park City, she said, she has simply lost her desire to shovel snow.

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