RCHS Alum Finds Inspiration in Passion

From Student to Affective Needs Teacher, Alum Finds Inspiration in Passion
Posted on 11/17/2021

From Student to Affective Needs Teacher, Alum Finds Inspiration in Passion

Kirstin Nordentoft graduated from Rock Canyon High School in 2010 and now works with students at Plum Creek Academy. The former Jaguar credits her teachers and high school experience for her passion about history and interest in helping Affective Needs students through social studies core content, art, and social emotional growth.

What is your name, which school did you attend, and what year did you graduate? 
I am Kirstin Nordentoft and I graduated from Rock Canyon High School in 2010.

What have you been doing since graduation? 
Since graduating, I have earned my Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Special Education. I first began working at DCSD as a Program Leader in the BASE programs 10 years ago. I eventually found my way to Plum Creek Academy (PCA) and began working on their Mental Health Team. I discovered my passion for teaching while working with the amazing teenagers there. I am grateful PCA gave me the opportunity to teach and I'm now in my 3rd year as an Affective Needs Teacher focusing on social studies core content, art, and social emotional growth.

What is your proudest achievement since graduating?
Other than life's typical milestones, I am proud to say I have since earned my black belt in Kenpo Karate, traveled to exciting parts of the globe, placed Runner-Up in the Apple Awards for Classified Staff at DCSD, and received an Outstanding Capstone Thesis in my Master's Degree Program.

Share a positive memory from high school that sticks out to you.
It's truly difficult for me to choose just one positive memory from high school! The one that sticks out the most is a lesson in my World History class. Mrs. Transom was a passionate teacher about her subject to the point that she would parade around the room, ranting and raving about any atrocity in history. On this particular day, it was how the peasants never stormed the Bastille during the French Revolution. She failed to see the chair behind her through her animated movements and she tripped. The class was quiet as she rolled back over on the floor, throwing a finger in the air yelling "AND ANOTHER THING!" The fall meant nothing to her teaching and she is probably the reason I am also passionate about history. I have not tripped over a chair screaming about the Bastille...yet!

What was one unique thing you learned about yourself during high school? How did your teachers and school support you?
I have always struggled with reading and writing and I was recently diagnosed as Dyslexic as an adult. Fortunately for me, it was never a major issue because I had such amazing and supportive teachers. I remember being frustrated at the beginning of my sophomore year because I could not manage well written papers. My social studies teacher at the time took extra care to give me the feedback I needed, as well as finding unique resources that I eventually took on to my college level writing. I had a creative writing class my senior year at RCHS and Mrs. Bloom really pushed me to hone my writing abilities and creativity. I loved her class so much that I took it twice (even though I didn't need to). These teachers and more didn't give up on me and showed me that with motivation and feedback, I could be a great reader/writer.

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

I would remind myself that high school is the time you spend on discovering yourself. Try new things, be curious, stay open minded, and use your trusted adults.

What skill (professional or personal) are you trying to master?
I am always looking to improve my creative side. Some say an artist never truly masters their craft, but I want to get close! I spend much of my free time painting, drawing, and cooking.

What are your future plans?
I find myself drawn to the science and research aspects of education. I want to continue my Master's Thesis on using role-playing games (like Dungeons and Dragons) as an instructional method to teach students core content and social emotional skills in general and special education. Big picture plans include a doctorate program that could support my research in this, but until then I am at home with my students at PCA. I see myself being involved in special education for the rest of my career.

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