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The City Journals

Teacher spotlight on Nibley Park’s Kimberly Dean

Oct 31, 2016 02:34PM ● By Aspen Perry

Kimberly Dean assists a lab group during one of her classes. Dean is often called “Professor Bill” by her students at Nibley Park Middle School. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry | [email protected]

South Salt Lake, Utah - Kimberly Dean’s love of teaching grows with each passing year. Which says a lot, especially considering Dean teaches the challenging subject of science to seventh and eighth graders at Nibley Park Middle School.

Despite the opinions of many who say teaching middle school is incredibly difficult, Dean, or ‘Professor Bill’ as her students call her, genuinely enjoys teaching this age group. 

“I love their view on life. Their emerging and somewhat strange senses of humor make me laugh. I love our inside jokes, such as, ‘don’t miss the bus’, ‘he’s such a fungi’,” said Dean. 

In eight years of teaching Dean said, “I’ve learned way more from my students than I’ve taught them.”

Before beginning her teaching career, Dean never considered teaching middle school. As luck would have it, when she interviewed for a position as an upper elementary grade teacher, she was instead offered the eighth grade spot.

“I’m so glad I accepted the position, and got the chance to discover how awesome this age group is,” said Dean.

According to a report published in August 2016 by the U.S. Department of Education, science teachers are always in need. However, Dean’s decision to teach science as her main subject was simply based on her love of science.

“I have always loved that science is a process of logical reasoning based on evidence. My goal is that my students will understand and evaluate information using logic and reasoning…I hope they will become informed citizens and knowledgeable consumers of solving both personal and societal problems,” said Dean. 

This love is evident as she preps for the next class lab. Students study an elodea leaf through a microscope to view the internal structure of the leaf cell. 

Before the lab can begin, students take turns reading from a sheet to ensure everyone understands the purpose and what is needed. Students laugh as Dean jokes about having a black thumb instead of a green thumb when it comes to plant care.

Through the lab Dean is involved in assisting each group and ensuring the lesson is resonating, while also trying to address the individual needs of a few students. 

Dean manages to juggle both with ease. She is also on top of what is going on in other classes and incorporates other subjects, such as literature, into her teachings. Upon learning students were reading Plato’s “Republic”, in another class she added the question, “What did Plato believe about the nature of man?” to her classroom whiteboard. 

When asked what drew her to teaching, Dean answered, “I’ve always had a love for learning and I wanted to empower young people to take control of their own learning.”