Kimberly is the Regional Director for Windham County. She joined the team recently, and her path to VAL was unique. Kimberly is originally from Ohio and studied Geology and Cartography at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After working for two years in the cartography field, she decided to make a career change. She traveled to Japan and taught English for a year, where she fell in love with teaching. After returning to the states, Kimberly received her Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language from Ball State University. With that degree, she moved to the Netherlands where she taught English for eighteen years at a Dutch university. In 2008, she returned to the United States and transferred from teaching to directing programs focused on international education.
Three years ago, she decided she wanted to shift her path and moved to Vermont where she and her partner set up a bed and breakfast. She described this project as “lots of work” but says she is glad to have given it a shot. Unfortunately, the B&B closed in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Shortly after, she decided to go back to work and saw a job opening at VAL. She was immediately interested in VAL’s mission and goals and found herself excited about the opportunity to serve American students for the very first time. When asked what excites her at VAL, Kimberly said she enjoys getting to learn about American culture from a new perspective. Providing students experiencing challenges with unique avenues to their education is especially rewarding.
Kimberly enjoys living on her farmstead with her partner, goats, alpacas, dogs, and cats when not working. She will be marrying her partner next month — congratulations Kimberly! She has a son at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a daughter at the University of Vermont. In addition to spending time with her family, she loves cooking with healthy, fresh, natural ingredients. She has a lot of fun in the kitchen and always wants someone in the kitchen cooking with her and trying out new recipes. “Baking is too precise,” Kimberly says, opting to focus on ethnic and spicy foods where she can experiment. Kimberly loves to freestyle dance to her Spotify playlist in her dancing room, outside, or on her porches. Her favorite song to dance to is “Shake Down Street” by the Grateful Dead. She also enjoys hiking with her dogs or goats, kayaking, and attending local community events, particularly concerts.
Kimberly says to students who may be struggling: “Keep going, there is someone out there to help you, you just have to find them.” She emphasizes that for students who do not succeed through the traditional education system, it’s usually because of outside influences, “not because they did anything wrong.” She says VAL is useful because it can offer students help in a different way. Kimberly enjoys helping her students feel better about themselves. In particular, she says since COVID was such a challenge, VAL is needed more than ever right now to help students get back on their feet.
This article was written by Sarah Plaut, VAL Development & Communications Intern.