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Katherine King took a different path to the classroom, but she is exactly where she was meant to be.

King, who is married and has three children, spent 15 years as a software engineer. She is now in her third year as a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Lakeview Middle School.

“I came to a point where I was inspired to do something different,” she said. “I realized that I really wanted to work in depth with the communities needing the most help. I felt really strongly that this is about relationships. I knew I wanted to work in a Title 1 school and in a middle school.”

King also wanted to work with students who are learning English. Lakeview has the largest community of English language learners in Greenville County.

This year, King started a Youth in Government program at the school, working with the YMCA to get the program fully funded so students could attend the statewide conference in Columbia, including the hotel stay and proper clothing so they could stand of the floor of the South Carolina statehouse and compete among their peers.

“Our kids brought home seven serious awards,” she said. “These kids are so passionate. They’re smart. The only thing standing in their way is poverty.”

Out of 27 students in the group, 21 speak English as a second language.

“Some of them said, ‘It’s the first time in my life I felt important,’” King said. “It brings tears to your eyes to see kids have that moment of empowerment. It’s not me doing it for them. They are doing it.”

 

Nomination excerpt:

“Katherine King started a Youth in Government program at Lakeview Middle School beginning this year. Lakeview serves a community that is 95.7 percent free and reduced lunch and majority Latino. Katherine secured enormous support through hands-on training and funding for our students. ... Students will have the experience of acting as a lawmaker in the space where our government votes on laws that protect the liberty and equality of all the citizens of our state. For each of our students, this trip will be life-changing.”

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