Features September 2019

Back to School: Perfect Attendance in Love

It’s that time of year again; the back to school excitement of new challenges, new friends and a fresh start. For some, this may be the first of many. For others, maybe their last. For most, it’s the familiar return to school that follows the summer holiday. Students and teachers alike look forward to the many new beginnings that the school year brings.

Kathy Pondy and her husband Chris, are both social studies teachers at Boulder Creek High School, in the midst of their 11th year with the Boulder Creek Jaguars and their 15th year in the Deer Valley School District. Teaching has been their passion for most of their lives and the pair is excited to begin another round of educating young minds.

Kathy was fresh out of college at age 22 when she first entered the field of education.

“I loved school,” said Kathy. “I had a great American Government teacher and was truly inspired by that class. I was also very involved in student government. I realized I wanted to create that same experience for other kids and make their high school experience memorable. I want them to know that teachers do care about them the way mine cared about me.”

History was always Kathy’s first choice and first love as a teacher. It was hard to get a teaching job when she graduated college, so she had also minored in library media to start as a librarian right out of school.

“My husband and I both love history; so much so that our wedding was civil war themed! Our guests were dressed in period attire and it was special and unique to us. Every year since, we plan a new travel experience where we can learn more about history and social economics.”

A native Arizonan herself, Kathy attended Arizona schools growing up and her mother taught at her school. Both Kathy and Chris attended and met at Northern Arizona University, ironically in a history class. After marrying in Flagstaff and starting a family of their own, they moved to the Valley where Kathy played an integral part of the opening of the library at Diamond Canyon School. It soon became a family affair when their own kids attended their schools and even took their classes. Attending school as a family brought them closer together and for Kathy and Chris, was exciting to experience as parents and teachers.

“Truly, we love to work together,” Kathy said. “I actually like my spouse. He’s creative and I’m analytical. We have similar interests and we enjoy learning from each other.”

Both are currently teaching economics together. They enjoy developing fun lesson plans, especially their new stock market game. They want students to have a fun and creative way to learn about personal finance and making wise financial choices. This lesson has become very popular as a widespread competition around the state. Students from various schools compete in finance and Kathy’s students recently placed first in their latest competition. Kathy and Chris are excited to continue to develop dynamic lessons for the kids to relate to the real world.

While Kathy is eligible for retirement in five years, she has no plans to stop educating. She is interested in possibly joining the Arizona Council on Economic Education and teaching workshops for teachers.

“I hope we are making a difference for these kids,” Kathy said. “I love the students. I love to teach in this community. I’ve seen these kids grow up and it’s really exciting to see their interest in my classroom and what I’m teaching; it fuels me.

“I also enjoy working with new, younger teachers and mentoring them. When we eventually leave this profession, we’ll know that some wonderful teachers will be able to continue educating the next generations.”

Over their years teaching, Kathy and Chris have taught over 5000 students combined. They’ve traveled around the world and taken students to Washington DC to see that what they’re learning in the classroom can be applied in their life and their futures.

“Teaching has been so rewarding,” Kathy shared. “There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing my students return with degrees in hand to share their growth and success. The traditions we’ve created, year after year are what we look forward to when we begin a new school year. We just feel that education is so important for the kids and we’ve dedicated our lives to making a relevant connection with them. We always are excited to see what kind of difference they’re making as they enter the world. It’s a cool legacy and we hope to share our love of history and economics with many more students to come.”

By: Rebecca Kaye

Rebecca Zaner

Rebecca Kaye has written many stories throughout the valley and enjoys having the ability to share community news, journeys and achievements. Holding a Bachelor of Music, Rebecca’s favorite place to be is the stage. Having been a singer all her life, Rebecca is now in pursuit of a professional performing career, singing pop and musical theatre (rebeccakayemusic.com). Visit her on YouTube to see her latest music videos. She is also an avid photographer and enjoys taking pictures as a hobby. Check her out at Rebecca Kaye Photography (rebeccakayephoto.wix.com/rebeccakaye). Rebecca can be found spending her free time exploring and traveling with her family.

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