On a recent Tuesday afternoon in Douma Elementary’s orange neighborhood, 20-year veteran teacher, Kim Muchow, sits with a kindergarten student curled up on her lap. The scene demonstrates her passion for students.
An Ottumwa native, Muchow took a non-traditional path to the classroom. After spending seven years working in the Easter’s grocery store deli, she did a stint as an accountant before working as a nanny in New Jersey, Davenport, and Des Moines. She returned to Ottumwa and worked at Herbergers while taking classes to earn her teaching degree.
Starting as a substitute teacher, she quickly was hired to fill an opening for a first grade teacher at Eisenhower. She has taught kindergarten every year of her career but three. “This year’s seniors I had in kindergarten and first grade,” Muchow said. That was during a time when the district was doing looping, keeping a teacher with a group of students for two consecutive years. “I had every student but three . . . and Alexis Nelson didn’t miss one day! All my classes are special but having all those kids for two years was even more special,” she said.
“Teaching kindergarten is like herding cats,” she said. She doesn’t take credit for the quote but says it is true. “Every year at the end of the year they’ve made so much growth. You see them blossom.”
The kindergarten classroom has changed during her tenure. Today, it is more like first grade used to be. In her early years, class time included more crafts and activities. There is a strong focus on academics now, according to Muchow, with students learning to read in kindergarten.
The end of the year is hard. “Every year is hard for me,” she said. “I hate to see them go but they are ready to try something new and learn new things.”
She continues to learn to provide a strong foundation for our students. “As teachers, we are always self-evaluating, ‘how am I going to change to make it work for this group?’”
She has no plans to retire anytime soon. “I hope I’m still teaching, still helping,” she said. “I hope I made a good impact on their life so they will make an impact on someone else’s life.”