Behind the scenes of teaching

The teachers at BVNW talk about why they decided to get into education.


Jenna Soltwedel

Kerry Kinkelaar, Honors Pre-calculus, AP calculus and AVID teacher, helps a student during her seventh hour, March 29.

Katelyn Gau, Writer

Teachers choose to teach for many reasons, whether that is because they feel passionate about their subject, because they want to help students improve themselves, to make an impact on the world through their students and more. The teachers at BVNW  are no different, they teach for the benefit of their students and because it is something that they enjoy doing.

Kerry Kinkelaar, a Honors Pre-calculus, AP calculus and AVID teacher, has been a teacher at BVNW for twenty years. She has always wanted to be a teacher, one of the reasons being her parents’ involvement in education, Kinkelaar said. Kinkelaar’s mother was a music teacher and her father was a professor in a graduate program for social work at Washburn University.

Growing up in Topeka and attending the University of Kansas, Kinkelaar said she wanted to work around the Kansas City area, and when she was hired by Blue Valley that was finally possible. At first, it was unknown to her which school she would be placed in, but Kinkelaar said she knew the former band teacher for BVNW from band at KU and he had a good experience teaching at BVNW, so she trusted him and decided to teach at BVNW.

“I’d just like to make a positive difference in their world and I think that is kind of broad thing but just to kind of help them to be the best version of whatever they are, it’d be great if they learned some math along the way but I think there is a lot more to teaching than just the actual content itself,” Kinkelaar said.

Matt Shulman, a Sociology teacher and Academic Interventionist, is currently teaching his second year at BVNW. Shulman said he didn’t always want to be a teacher, he originally wanted to teach college basketball. 

Shulman formerly taught basketball at Piper High School, he realized he was the only staff member of color at a school where the student population was about 30-35% Black and that he was not even a full time teacher, he was the basketball coach, meaning he was “it” for these kids. 

“I felt like if I could make an impact in those kids that were on the basketball team, maybe I could help make an impact in the kids in the classroom as well, and so it kind of changed my thought process,” Shulman said.

Bill Smithyman, is a ELA 10, AP Language and Composition for juniors and an AVID teacher, has been teaching here for twenty years. Smithyman went to BVNW when he was in highschool and was even the student of one of the current English teachers, EK Pearson. 

When looking for work, Smithyman gave his portfolio to BVNW’s former principal Dr. Kokoruda when he was in college and asked him to look over it. Smithyman had applied for multiple jobs in Chicago but had trouble finding a job. Smithyman then said he was struck with some luck when a job position opened at BVNW and Smithyman was hired to fill the position. 

“There are a ton of inspiring teachers around here, I had Karen Stohlman when I was in school here, she’s incredibly inspirational but I’d say within ELA, EK and Trish Paugh they were pretty inspirational,” Smithyman said.