St. Louis Blues November 2021 Teacher of the Month

Future GoalsTM Program

St. Louis Blues November 2021 Teacher of the Month

Name:

Kathleen Petruska

School:

Parkway South Middle; Parkway School District

Classroom Team:


Tell us about yourself!

I am a teacher at Parkway South Middle, in the Parkway School district. I have been teaching math to 6th and 7th graders for 13 years, and I wanted to become a math teacher to better the lives of all students and make a difference in our community. Being a teacher is one of the most important things in my life, next to being a wife and a mother, and when people ask me about my children, I always ask them ‘which ones?’ I consider the importance of my role in the lives of my students, and just like I try to teach my four year old twins, Gus and Lilly, how to be kind and rally for their success, I also champion my students to be the best version of themselves, while lifting up others along the way. My favorite thing about teaching is the community that I get to be a part of. This sense of community is what makes my profession so special, and I work hard to help make the culture of our school a positive reflection of our larger St. Louis community. I have worked to develop curriculum at the district level, and I have taken on many leadership roles in the school. I led our 6th grade orientation program and our WEB program (pre-covid), which trained a large group of 8th grade students, reflective of our diverse population, in leadership roles throughout the school. In addition to this, I am a leader for my curriculum team and I work to build a positive culture for our teachers and students by taking an active role in our community building committee. I love to learn and I want my students to feel that same way. While math and stem are incredibly important, teaching my students about empathy and kindness is equally as important. Building character and fostering that sense of compassion in our community is key to the success of all future generations. I work with my school and my local Kirkwood community to engage in generous acts of kindness. I create homeless bags and hand them out to people both in Kirkwood and just passing through. It is important for me to be that representation of love and empathy for both my students and my family.

Who is your favorite NHL® player and why?

You want me to pick one?!?!? Favorite of all time, would of course be Bernie Federko, because he is not only a hall of famer but he is also a genuinely nice guy and everyone loves him. Ryan O’Reilly is my favorite current player because he puts everything that he has into each game, he is a team player, and again seems like a great guy and everyone loves him. I am big on kindness and making a difference that uplifts others and makes our world better. Both these men put that energy out in the world and St. Louis loves them for it.

What is your favorite part of the Future Goals™program? How do you see STEM in the game of hockey?

One of the most important aspects of teaching is allowing students to discover math in the world around them. Seeing and experiencing the real world application of math, especially in a hands-on way is key. Everfi takes this to a new level, increasing students’ interest in math and science through technology and engineering. It also makes many students, who might not have a connection to hockey, fans in the process. Many of my students say they watched their first hockey game because of the program and others say they feel more confident in their problem solving skills. This builds a connection to their hometown and one of treasured teams.

Math and hockey go hand in hand, from the angles and force needed to score, to the designing of the rink, and the problem solving and leadership that builds the best teams. The opportunities to learn about math in the world of hockey are limitless. Statistics for players and the games are one of my favorite ways to connect math to students’ lives because they can see this not only in hockey but in many sports that interest them.

If you played hockey, what position would you play and why?

I cannot pretend to be good at hockey, and I cannot skate to save my life, so (if I can change the rules of this question) I think I would be the assistant coach. Just like in teaching, I am there to support the values of our community by helping our students find success. I don’t have all the answers or make the final say in how they play the game, they need to be their own coach, but I am there with a different perspective and I am an extra resource when they need me.

If I have to pick a position on the ice I would be defense, because I am always there to defend my students against anything that flies their way and keep them looking ‘forward’ and can always give an assist to keep them focused on scoring their goals.