Kim Knauss Inspires Middle School Girls to Believe in Themselves

Meet Kim Knauss, Hutchison's middle school learning specialist. In her role, she is poised to help each girl maximize her learning through intentional and personalized support.
Editor's Note: Answers have been shortened and edited for clarity and conciseness.

What motivated you to become a teacher? 

I came to teaching as a second career after many years as a technical writer. I loved developing training and development materials for my clients but never had the opportunity to see the materials in action. With the transition to teaching, I was able to combine my love for creating engaging materials with the experience and joy of watching my intended audience (my students) interact with and grow from that material.  

What is your favorite concept and/or lesson to teach? 

I love teaching students about metacognition - being aware of how they think and learn and how to channel their strengths and abilities to accomplish their goals. I also love working with educators to incorporate active learning and gamification into the classroom to bring energy, excitement, and joy to challenging curriculum.

What do you want a student to learn from having known you? 

I want each of my girls to realize that she is capable of amazing things, that she has the power to learn and grow, and most importantly, that learning about new things is fun! I want to equip my students with the skills and strategies to find joy in lifelong learning.

How do you get the results you want each student to achieve? 

Each of my students is so uniquely different in who they are, what they want from school and life, and in what strategies they need to accomplish their goals. I stress a positive, realistic mindset, the development of self-management and self-reliance (learning how to learn), and the importance of perseverance through challenging moments. I believe in my students and I tell them this every chance I get. They are amazing young ladies. I want them to know I see their greatness and capability even in those moments when they don’t feel great or capable. 

Describe your career experience. Are there any key accomplishments you would like to share? 

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Auburn University, my Master of Arts in Teaching from Vanderbilt University, and my graduate certificate in Gifted Education. In 2019, I co-authored Encounters with Archetypes: Integrated ELA Lessons for Gifted and Advanced Learners in Grades 4-5. During my career, I have developed over 100 training and standard operating procedure guides for adult learners in companies including Proctor and Gamble and Medtronic. Additionally, I have supported neuro-diverse middle-grade learners in the classroom as a special education teacher and as a teacher of students identified as gifted and talented. Throughout my career in education, I also have facilitated whole-school faculty and peer group professional development sessions. 

Mrs. Knauss keeps motivational quotes in her room to uplift girls when they are feeling anxious and stressed.
Her room serves as an environment where they can find soothing or calming resources when needed.

What do you like about being at Hutchison? 

I really love the people at Hutchison. Everyone I have interacted with at Hutchison loves being here and loves contributing to the mission of the school. Even when faced with challenges normal to the field of education, they focus on the students. The development and growth of these young ladies is the guiding force at the center of all that we do and the decisions that are made at Hutchison. It is truly all about the students.

Why did you choose to teach here?

I chose to teach at Hutchison because the school emphasizes bringing joy to learning. During my first visit to Hutchison, I fell in love with this joy. This is what I had always wanted to bring to my students, and here it was on this campus! I knew I wanted to be part of this!

How do you keep current with the subject area(s) you cover and apply the latest learning research?

Keeping current on the latest research in neurodiversity and executive functioning is critical. These areas are fast evolving. I enjoy reading published research studies and participating in a variety of online and in-person learning sessions with knowledge experts in neurodiverse learning. Hutchison supports trying new strategies and approaches which makes it easy to incorporate what I learn into my sessions with my students and also to share new approaches with teachers.

What are your favorite moments with a student? 

My favorite moments with my students are when after being nervous and worried about a test, one that we worked on and planned for, they come in all smiles and share their success. The best moments are when they realize that they are capable of setting a target and then attaining that target. I love to see when they realize they are capable of doing what they intend to do. 

What interests you outside the classroom? What are you personally passionate about? 

Travel, walking/hiking, and laughing with my family - these are the things I love. If I can do all three with my family (and pups) I am at my happiest. My most recent favorite travel destination was Old Quebec City. I hope to travel to Japan in the next few years and to return to Italy. 

Share a fun fact your students might not know about you that they might find interesting.

I was married in Italy, both my sons were born in Italy, and we lived there five years... but I do not speak Italian (yikes!). I learned how to snow ski on the Zugspitze, the highest mountain peak in Germany, on my honeymoon.
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Hutchison is the leading private girls school in Memphis for ages 2 years old through twelfth grade.