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View From Vis: Meet English Teacher Ms. West

Kathleen West just joined the Upper School English team here at Vis. Let's get to know her a little better!

1. What is your educational/career background, and how did it prepare you for your role teaching English at Vis?

I have wanted to be an English teacher since my middle school days at Visitation! In fact, I saved my teachers' handouts in a filing cabinet for my own future use. As it was, I ended up creating and updating my own materials, but those folders contained many fond memories of English classrooms at Vis. I majored in English at Macalester College, I have a master's degree in literacy education from the University of Minnesota, and I've been teaching since 1999. I've taught in Bloomington, Edina, and at The Blake School. Now, I split my time between teaching and fiction writing. My third novel will publish in March.

2. As an alumna, what drew you back to Vis to teach?

As soon as I walked through the portress for my interview, I felt at home. As a lifer, I grew up at Visitation. My teachers demonstrated so much care for me and always encouraged me to be my best self. I can't wait to be part of the community again.

3. What are the highlights of Visitation's English program?

Visitation grads are exceptional readers, writers, and thinkers. As a department, we take the discipline seriously and commit to developing deep knowledge of literature and writing.

4. Which units are you most excited to teach?

Ms. Sutton and I plan to create a new unit featuring a variety of essayists. She asked me to read World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatahil this summer. I fell under the writer's spell from page one, and I can't wait to share her work with my students. 

5. How can reading and writing help students discover how to "be who they are and be that well"? 

Reading and writing are powerful tools for self-discovery. In others' work, we vicariously experience a multitude of identities. As we articulate our own ideas, we clarify our values and worldviews.  

6. Lightning Round: 

What is your favorite... 

Activity to do in your spare time?

I love to run! In 1989, I ran on the first official cross country team at Visitation. Ms. Gavic was our coach, and there are so many other Blazer runners on staff at Vis. I'll have to dig up my old photos of Ms. Hickok, Ms. Patterson, and Ms. Fenlon.

Book of all time?

That's too hard! Some favorites include A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and A Heart In a Body In the World by Deb Caletti.

Show to binge watch?

Right now, I'm into Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist.

Time of day?

Early morning. I like the alone time before the day unfolds.

Vis memory?

There are far too many. I'll choose our senior retreat. I don't remember all of the details of this overnight, but I do remember finding new and genuine appreciation for my diverse class.

Place in the world to visit?

So far, it's been Banff in Alberta, Canada.

Bucket list destination?


Part of your job?

When you're a teacher, there are moments of joy in every day. When you get to work with kids, it's pretty much guaranteed.

We are #visproud to welcome Ms. West to our Upper School team!