The Platteville School District Board of Education recently welcomed Kecia King to a newly vacant seat, and after spending time in the classrooms and community in Platteville, she is ready to serve the best way she knows how with listening and learning.
King has been in education for the past handful of years, but started her career in the US Air Force, enabling her to receive a master’s degree in elementary education. With the nationwide issue of teacher shortage, King was quickly offered a position at an elementary school in Platteville soon after relocating to the area to rejoin her husband and children.
“What I saw when I was in the classroom, and what I noticed when I was virtual, as well, was just the level of care and support that our students need,” King told Madison365, reflecting on teaching through the COVID pandemic. “What we ask teachers for on a day-to-day basis is a focus always on academics. That’s our focus, not to say that’s everything that we do, that’s just our focus, so on top of that, we wear various hats to make sure that we’re supporting these students. When it became virtual, for me, it was kind of like a family focus. Not only am I looking at this student on the camera, I’m watching the student and also watching the environment that the student is in.”
Although King was new to the Platteville area originally coming from California, her commitment to her students quickly made it clear that her main goal was to provide empathy and support in the community. King remembered discussing what kind of adaptations would be necessary to support their students with the elementary school principal, and that same ability to adapt is also a crucial aspect of her position as a school board member.
“Just having a positive mindset and a positive outlook, it’s contagious,” said King. “We’re able to dispute and disagree, but still be community members …still be a Platteville family. From what I saw, that’s what some parents, and what some community team members were looking for.”
Reserving judgment and meeting people with understanding at the forefront are both approaches that King advocated for her students, especially during the civil unrest after the murder of George Floyd. King made it clear that getting to know other people’s experiences, especially those you may not share identities with, is key to actually acknowledging what someone else may go through.
“These are not just bad kids,” King explained. “They may come from trauma or situations like that, and I don’t know what their household relationships are or what their home dynamics are. I know, these students don’t come to school to be bad. I know that for a fact. Also with people in the community and the parents, as well. I don’t know what their experiences are, but when they tell me their experiences, I value what they share and their vulnerability to do so. Then how can we come together as a community around acknowledging those experiences, as well.”
With a deep appreciation for the students of Platteville, King knows how crucial it is to have people who listen to the community in positions like the school board. However, King also made it clear that those we may think of to listen to the least may actually have the most valuable insight into the experience of being in schools today.
“I hope to be a catalyst of advocacy for students and parents … and our community members. I want them to be able to address their concerns to the school district and board without judgment, reprisal or criticism. Most importantly, I want to be a true active and listening ear,” said King, reflecting on Platteville’s growth and her commitment to understanding changes and how people are feeling before simply trying to fix issues.
“Students want someone that will truly listen to them, acknowledge their growth, and acknowledge that their experiences are not too different from what we experience as adults. It doesn’t always have to be academic. Their opinions and ideas matter. The students also want a seat at the table.”
King will serve on the school board until April, at which point the seat will be up for election.