COTTONWOOD – A man with many strong attributes, keeping his classroom relaxed just might be Dennis Kitchen’s finest ability.
Says Genie Gee, assistant principal at Mingus Union High School, Kitchen “has a way of talking and interacting with people that puts them at ease.”
“Dennis Kitchen is a Mingus treasure,” Gee says.
“He’s such a good person and a caring educator, which has led to an amazing reputation in our school and community cultivated through communication with families, relationships with students, and camaraderie within our team.”
A mathematics teacher at the Cottonwood school, Kitchen says his favorite part about teaching is the “relationship with the kids.”
“I enjoy seeing the kids change and learn, no matter what personality they have,” Kitchen says. “That’s the best part about it.”
Not that there aren’t frustrations connected with being an educator.
For Kitchen, those challenges are more external in nature.
The thing he likes least about his career is “the fact that so many people don’t value the educational system.”
“There seems to be a lot of blame put on the school systems, rather than blaming society for so many problems,” Kitchen says.
“The school system is not failing these kids,” he says.
“The shift in society that takes away responsibility from individuals and dumps it on an institution like the government, or the school system, or whatever else they can lay the blame on other than themselves.”
“I guess ‘discovery’ might be how I explain my teaching style. I want my students to see the relationships and make the connections with the problems. I tell them over and over that learning mathematics is really learning how to think, and use your brain. It’s your practice to solve problems out in the real world.”
“I don’t have really have awards or much acclaim, other than I hope I’m one of those teachers [who] is memorable to students. I like all my students and have always had a great relationship with my students. I hope they see me as a great example of a grown-up out in the real world, a good citizen in the community, and someone they might want to be like regardless of their profession.”
“I have always put a little humor into discipline and classroom management. One of my favorite things to say has been ‘don’t be a dingleberry!’ It’s simple, but they can always relate to what it means to be someone that acts accordingly, and respects those around you. So if they can grow up without being a dingleberry too often, then they are on their way to a happier, more fulfilling life.”
DID YOU KNOW?
“I didn’t plan on teaching, then my degree was as an English teacher, then I became a math teacher. Teaching math has been the best fit for me. I love learning how things connect, and teaching my students those relationships has been fun and rewarding for me.”