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Say hello to The Hat Lady

… all your future lies beneath your hat.
ó John Oldham
By Katie Scarvey
kscarvey@salisburypost.com
Small hats and big hats.
Pig hats and wig hats
Old hats and new hats
Red hats and blue hats.
Oh, the hats she will wear!
Flamingos, frogs, lobsters, aliens, lions, panthers, Donald Duck, the big bad wolf, Nemo: Kim Sheeks has hats featuring all of these ó and so many more.
A lifelong hat collector, Sheeks brought 112 of them to Knollwood Elementary School recently ó and told students she probably had an equal number at home.
Sheeks is known as The Hat Lady ó truth in advertising at its best.
And yes, she is a Red Hatter, she told students ó and before that, a Pink Hatter (whatever that is).
She was visiting Knollwood to present her hat program to students in grades 2-5 who had met their Accelerated Reader goals for the third quarter ó about 150 of them. Media specialist Dawn Fox arranged the visit.
She started out wearing not a hat but a racing helmet ó because she’s always “racing around,” she told students.
Sheeks is a well-known Rowan County educator. She recently retired after 31 years as a teacher, most of them at Morgan Elementary School, where she has been Teacher of the Year.
Another Morgan teacher, Linda Austin, is the one who got her started as The Hat Lady, she says.
“She wanted me to do a mother-daughter program,” Sheeks said.
That led to more appearances than she can count over the past 10 years or so. She’s done them for Red Hatters, including a group of 500 in Williamsburg, Va., for school classes, for groups of teachers, for church groups.
Everybody wants The Hat Lady.
Sheeks tells stories and jokes as she removes and dons hats, presumably tailoring her stories to her audience.
A fish-themed hat leads to a story about the children’s classic “Rainbow Fish” ó and a message about how sharing leads to happiness.
Sometimes Sheeks asked questions, and if a student gave a good answer, she’d say, “Kiss your brain! You did a good job.”
Sheeks shared personal stories as well, including several about chickens.
“Have you ever sat in a vet’s office with a chicken in your lap?” she asked her audience. “People make fun of you.”
Turned out all her rooster needed was some vitamins.
She also shared a hilarious tale about a chicken getting caught in her underwear.
Students seemed surprised to learn that Sheeks is a preacher’s wife.
She is married to the Rev. Bruce Sheeks, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in China Grove.
Though she may be a preacher’s wife, she’s probably more comfortable wearing a teacher’s hat ó one hat she rarely takes off.
Although her presentation is fun and silly above all, serious messages are sprinkled liberally throughout.
“Teachers can’t do any more for you than you want to do for yourself,” she told the Knollwood students.
And then she gave them her favorite motto, made up of 10 two-letter words:
“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

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