Irreplaceable Teacher: Kim Strell
Watching art teacher Kim Strell begin a class with her 3rd grade art students is a cultural experience in itself. Kim is poised, patient, informative, and demonstrates what she is talking about so her students get audible and visual cues. The students listen quietly with a good level of maturity because Mrs. Strell obviously knows what she’s talking about and they know--if they listen well, their outcome will be better. Art class is fun, and so is Mrs. Strell. Students, by and large, want to please teachers they know have their success at heart. “Make artists choices,” she reminds them.
A shared art teacher until this year, Kim Strell has taught in nearly every elementary and middle school in the District for a total of 10 years, though she has been a teacher for 13 years. She loves her big room at Northwood and says, “Homebase is best.” Her first involvement in the district was as a sub, until an astute administrator asked her to come in as a long term. Full time hiring came soon after.
“I love the elementary schools,” Kim says, “I see every child, K through 5.” That means Kim has the beginnings of a six-year relationship with each student in the building. Within that span, Kim teaches her students art history, the meaning of art, and then technique. When school was remote, Kim held classes, but also made a website full of everyday challenges for young artists.
The result was invaluable. She says, “Kids figured out they could do art on their own with available resources. For some of them, there was a realization for the first time that art was something they could do outside of this classroom.” Aside from the art she made sure her students were practicing, Kim says, “I started a weekly news channel my students could tune in to. Just to see my face, meet my pets and my family. It was good for all of us.”
Northwood Principal Angela Ferri says, “Kim is a bright light, who is woven into every aspect of our building. She is more than an art teacher. She is a mentor, she co-advises our Kindness Club with Mrs. Fitzpatrick, she advises the Art Club and Yearbook Club, and is a member of our PBIS Committee and Literacy PSP. She even supervises our Pokemon Club.”
Fellow staff members describe Kim as dynamic. Principal Ferri says, “She is full of positive energy and Northwood spirit! She is always going out of her way to create and come up with unique ideas to make Northwood a better place. Kim is a team player and strives to make meaningful connections with all staff and students at Northwood.”