Age no limit for ambitious, teenage student teacher
Kathryn Dozier-Quine is a co-teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School in Yakima, finishing up her bachelor's degree and teacher certification at Heritage University.
She tutors disadvantaged students at Heritage and mentors at-risk children with a local outreach group called Trailseekers. She plays more than 20 musical instruments and does charity shows with her sister. She distributes Avon products on the weekends, spent two years helping at a center for the deaf, and has dreams of teaching in China.
And she's barely 18 years old.
"I'm not like super-smart or something. I'm just kind of advanced as to where I should be at this age," she says.
The young student teacher -- who turned 18 on Aug. 30 -- has had a whirlwind education.
She started at Terrace Heights Elementary School when she was 4, but says they wouldn't really "let (her) get ahead," so her mom home-schooled her with her sister Ana the rest of the way through a program called North Atlantic Regional High School.
Dozier-Quine was forced to wait until Yakima Valley Community College changed the 16-year-old minimum age so she could take the Compass entrance test and start Running Start college classes at age 14.
Her sister, who is almost 21, waited and entered at the same time. She earned her associate of business degree from YVCC and is now an accounting major at Heritage.
Dozier-Quine -- Kaydee to her friends -- finished her associate of arts degree in 2009 when she was 15 and transferred directly to Heritage, where she's pursuing her K-8 teaching certification with an English Language Learner endorsement for preschool-12. She'll be finished in early December.
"It's just something that I have a passion for," she said. "My teaching -- that's my life, and that's where I smile -- when I'm in my room full of kids."
In the classroom, her enthusiasm is evident, and her age is instantly forgotten.
Dozier-Quine is doing a new co-teach model of student teaching, where the permanent classroom teacher -- Geneva Frazier -- stays and shares the instruction time, rather than simply handing the class over for a few months.
This model works much better, says Frazier, a second-grade teacher, because it lets her stay connected with her kids.
She first worked with Dozier-Quine over the summer, and said they just "hit it off."
"She was very mature, and I thought I could really work with her," Frazier said. "And I've had 23-year-olds doing their student teaching who were just not on the same level ... I go, 'Really, is she 18?' I go home and I scratch my head."
The teaching pair say they work like "a well-oiled machine," and instinctively pass the lesson between the two of them.
"She has a wealth of information, but is very dedicated to having a relationship with kids," Frazier said. "She has that ability to encourage children to be the best."
Dozier-Quine comes from a blended family. The youngest of 11 children, she was adopted by DeAnna Dozier-Quine and Richard Quine when she was 3 years old. DeAnna, a retired family therapist, has been a foster parent for 35 years, and both Kaydee and Ana started out as her foster children. Foster kids and their own children have been a constant part of their home. She also has 30 nieces and nephews and one great-nephew.
"I've always gotten to, like, steal everybody's kids," Dozier-Quine jokes. "So I love kids."
Her age hasn't been problem-free; until she turned 18, she still needed her mom to sign permission slips for activities at Heritage. And some instructors argue that she's too young to be in the classroom, though most have been very impressed with her.
"She's highly intelligent; very capable academically," said Sonja McDaniel, Dozier-Quine's adviser and ELL (English Language Learner) certification teacher. "She's not intimidated. ... She's capable of going on to a master's and even doctorate work if she chooses. Not everyone is, but Kaydee could do it."
She's never been one to back down easily: Several years ago, her family's Terrace Heights home burned down while they were in the process of reinsuring it, setting them back to square one.
"We just had to start all over again," she said.
Dozier-Quine and her sister lost all their musical instruments in the fire -- a heavy blow, since music had been a big part of their lives since they were 4 or 5 years old. The girls play guitar, violin, piano, banjo, mandolin, dobro and more than a dozen others, and often perform at benefit events for military groups and nursing homes.
To put herself through school, Dozier-Quine has held a range of jobs: She worked at McDonald's, cleaned house for an elderly woman, helped teach at the Southeastern Washington Service Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and tutored in several programs. Now, on top of classes and student teaching, she and her family pick up Avon products from the delivery trucks on Sundays and distribute them to sales representatives all over the Valley.
Between home-schooling and all her outside commitments, Dozier-Quine said people sometimes asked her if she had a social life. But she doesn't think she missed out on anything.
"I think I probably had a lot more opportunity for social life than most kids," she said. "I was doing Tae Kwon Doe and I had my music and I had my dance, and my peers weren't limited to people just in my grade level."
Dozier-Quine doesn't think she's been particularly extraordinary; she was simply given a lot of opportunities. And success like hers isn't out of reach for other students.
"Just do it," she says. "Just know what's available. Talk to everybody about what you want to do, because you never know who knows what, and what you can run into."
She's currently focused on applying for teaching jobs overseas; she hopes to work in a foreign language school in Beijing, and expects to come back to the U.S. in a few years for more schooling.
Frazier thinks her student teacher can take a bit more of the credit for her own accomplishments.
"She has this drive, her own personal drive, and I think that's really what's putting her out there," she said. "She works very hard, carrying a whole huge load ... I think she'll find excitement wherever she goes."
* Molly Rosbach can be reached at 509-577-7628 or email@example.com
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