Making the Grade: Kathy Humphreys
Several times over the past two decades, Kathy Humphreys’ husband asked her if she would like to transfer to a job closer to home. The Breckenridge resident always said “No,” instead preferring to make the trip to Silverthorne Elementary day in and day out.”Silverthorne is a family,” she said. That feeling of connection kept Humphreys coming back for 25 years, through all the changes in the school system and the student population.Wednesday, the 53-year-old said goodbye to her last student at Silverthorne. She confessed that her long relationship with the Silverthorne community is not making the separation easy.”That’s the hardest part about leaving,” she said. “All of the wonderful students I’ve had to work with – and the wonderful parents. I love following families through.”Humphreys grew up in a small town in Oregon and knows the value of community connection. Her father owned a grocery store in Myrtle Creek – population about 1,500 – and she could never get away with any mischief.
“You didn’t get in trouble,” she said. “Because he knew about it even before you did.”Severe problems with her vision, related to childhood cataracts and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, required special attention for her, and in fourth grade she was sent to the Salem School for the Blind for two years.”I stayed in a dorm,” she said. “And I’d ride the Greyhound home every weekend.”When surgery for cataract removal restored her sight, she appreciated the improved vision, but missed her friends in Salem.”I saw the real world and it was amazing,” she said. “But I went back (to Myrtle Creek) for sixth grade. That’s a really hard time to switch schools.”Humphreys knew early on she wanted to teach. She always enjoyed working with kids and went to college to learn to be an elementary school teacher. While in college, she met her husband, John. She and a friend were walking across a school parking lot carrying a pumpkin pie when she first saw him.
“He invited himself down for a piece of pie,” she said. And the rest is history.After five years teaching in Oregon, including a stint in her hometown, she and her husband drove through Summit County on a vacation and liked what they saw. The couple decided to move here when John found a job in his profession and Kathy had no problem landing a position in the public schools. At different periods during her 25 years at Silverthorne, she’s taught reading, second, third and fourth grade.Her commitment to her students is obvious when she talks about both her greatest frustrations and her greatest satisfactions. Dealing with CSAPs has been a thorn in her side at Silverthorne.”I think in some ways they’re good,” she said. “But I think the way they rate the school is frustrating – being penalized for foreign language students.”When asked about her favorite part of the job, Humphreys again cites the students and their parents.
“We have a lot (of parents) that can’t take time off to come to the building,” she said. “But they’re supportive in every way they can be.”Once her retirement is in full swing, she and her husband plan to move back to Oregon and travel as much as possible. Humphreys recently learned that her daughter Laura, a third-grade teacher in Anchorage, Alaska, is expecting her first child at the end of the year. Being able to spend time helping her daughter has taken some of the sting away from leaving Silverthorne.”I’ve had some really sad moments,” she said. “Then when I heard about my daughter, I thought it must’ve been the right time.”Humphreys and her husband won’t abandon Colorado completely – their son Matthew lives in Lakewood – but this summer they’ll bid their farewell to Summit County. In characteristically modest fashion, she summarized her career her in one final statement.”I’ve loved my 25 years teaching at Silverthorne Elementary and will miss the students and the parents and the staff a lot,” she said.
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