Teacher of the Year
Teacher of year
Huntingtown High School teacher Nathan Kimbro with principal Rick Weber
Support Person of the Year
Regina Hagelin Support Person of the year (center)
Huntingtown's Kimbro, Mill Creek's Hagelin honored
By ANDY STATES
Apr 16, 2019
When Nathan Kimbro was 18, he and a friend decided to put on a puppet show.
At the time, Kimbro, a Huntingtown High School special education teacher who was named the Calvert County Teacher of the Year at a banquet at the Rod N’ Reel Restaurant in Chesapeake Beach on Thursday night, had no idea the profound impact it would have on his life.
“I had an opportunity to do some volunteer work at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,” Kimbro, who is originally from Greensboro, N.C., said recalling the summer before his freshman year in college. “Me and my mentor decided that we wanted to take a puppet show up to Memphis and volunteer some time at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital … We were there for a week and on the third day we were able to do the puppet show in the church part of the hospital. As you can imagine, the chapel is a really popular place in a hospital full of kids with cancer.”
In front of a relatively large crowd, the show went over well.
“It was really cool,” Kimbro said. “The kids were singing and having a lot of fun, but we had a parent that stayed down one day and his son couldn’t come to the actual chapel. He asked if we could come up and do an individualized puppet show for his son, who was on the fifth floor, which we agreed to do.”
The fifth floor meant that the young man they were going to perform for was fighting a disease that was more advanced.
“It was a really surreal experience, going up there and seeing what the hospital was like when you get up that high on the floors,” Kimbro said. “Just kind of washing your hands and the steps they go through.”
They performed the puppet show for the boy, whose name was Eric, on a Monday. The following Thursday, they found out he had passed away.
“That was obviously a low blow and a reality check for us, but there were a lot of other really great things we could do,” Kimbro said, noting the many enriching experiences the trip provided throughout the week. “So on Friday I was just breaking down our stage and while I was breaking down the stage there was a man off in the distance and my buddy, Jeff, kept telling me to stand up … As the man got closer it was evident that it was Eric’s father.
“He walked up to Jeff and I and hugged both of us very, very tightly and said, ‘I just wanted to thank you for making a difference in the last week of my son’s life.’ After hearing those words I knew I was going to plug myself into a profession where I could make that kind of a difference on a regular basis. That’s kind of why I got into teaching. I’ve always felt a calling for it, always felt driven to do it and I’ve never felt anything more rewarding than teaching.”
Kimbro, who has taught his entire 15-year career at Huntingtown, works in special education, but more specifically in the behavioral development program and with children with autism.
“Most people ask me what I teach and I kind of change the question around and I tell them it’s more who I teach,” he said. “I teach a hodgepodge of subjects, but that’s the population I teach those subjects to.”
Kimbro’s objective, and one he believes every educator should aspire to, comes from a quote from Mark Twain.
“it says that the two more important days of your life are the day that you are born and the day you find out why,” he said. “My message to teachers and to my profession would be that our job every single day is to wake up and help our young people find their why.”
When Kimbro’s name was called to close out the night’s ceremony, he arrived at the podium not with a lengthy speech to reach, but rather with just a hall pass with a couple brief notes scribbled on it.
“I don’t like to get up and read to people,” he said, noting that he delivers a fair share of speeches at professional development functions. “What I will do is I might write down like four words. At the top, my hall pass said ‘thank everyone.’ It said ‘rich man, poor man,’ and then it just had a heart on it, which was to remind me of my wife. That’s all I had actually written on the hall pass.”
The “rich man, poor man” portion of his speech focused on the notion that what a person has in life in a material sense has no meaning compared to the impact they make on others. Kimbro then closed his speech with a heartfelt thank you to his wife, Erin.
“Being in education, one of the things I wish is that every educator could experience that at least one time,” Kimbro said of receiving the honor. “Nobody ever gets into education for those nights or for those awards, but it is a neat feeling. It really is cool and I think everybody should have that feeling of love and appreciation at least once in their career.”
Also feeling that love and appreciation Thursday night was Regina Hagelin, an instructional assistant at Mill Creek Middle School, who was named Calvert County Support Person of the Year. Hagelin, who works diligently with the school’s intervention program, routinely arrives at school a couple of hours early in an effort to do everything she can for the students.
“It is my pride and my joy,” she said during her acceptance speech. “It is very important to me that students get placed in the proper intervention program, because their placement makes their future.”
Those students provide Hagelin with the inspiration to do what she does.
“I won this award for the kids,” she said. “The kids make me who I am. Every student at my school makes me proud every single day.”