Kim Tuttle '96, M.S. '98
An honored teacher's insight on teenagers
By Bailey Black
With 22 years of experience teaching in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Kim Tuttle ’96, M.S. ’98, was able to bring her expertise to the Office of Alumni Relations’ Highlander Wisdom Series on “teaching teens through a pandemic.” Tuttle was named Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 2019 Teacher of the Year, bringing her full circle after being named New Teacher of the Year two decades prior during her first year of teaching.
Tuttle has been involved inside and outside of the classroom since her first day at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1998. She is the advisor for the International Club, Black Student Alliance Club, LGBTQ Club and YCI Christian Club, and she travels with her students, bringing them abroad to study real-world examples of the material they learn in the classroom.
“I’m a firm believer in teaching the whole child — getting to know the children themselves, what they love and bringing that content to life,” said Tuttle. “About 11 years ago, we were studying the Holocaust, and one of my students said, ‘Let’s go on a field trip.’ That field trip became a two-week stay in Europe. Since then, we have been going every year.”
Tuttle has brought her students to the Berlin Wall to study Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech and Neuschwanstein Castle to see the inspiration for the setting of “Beauty and the Beast.” Tuttle and her students also experienced London during Brexit voting and were able to see Notre Dame in Paris before it burned in 2019.
“I owe a lot of what I do and how I interact with my students to my English professors at Radford,” said Tuttle. “They made sure I understood more than just the content. They wanted me to see how the content related to real-world situations, and I mimic that in the classroom.”
In Tuttle’s Highlander Wisdom Series conversation, she touched on the importance of staying connected to her students during the COVID-19 pandemic when classes were held virtually.
“You have to learn to laugh with the kids. We sometimes start the class off with jokes,” said Tuttle. “I find ways to get them back in and build that relationship. With any student, the relationship is the key. I guess it’s not as difficult for me with that relationship piece, because at the beginning of every semester, I do not open a book. We do not do content work — we do relationship work.”
In addition to teaching, Tuttle also works with Hairston Education Consulting, a team of educational leaders led by her sister that provides schools with instructional and leadership coaching, professional development and school needs assessments.
“Teachers bring their jobs home. They’re working at night, on the weekends, during holidays and during the summer,” said Tuttle.