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Vocational Opportunities hires education coordinator

By Wilson Cherry

Rowan Vocational Opportunities

While many people are hesitant to give the teaching profession the appreciation and respect it is due, Kim Walton has a positive perspective about teaching and its value to society. After recently accepting a position as instructor and education coordinator at Rowan Vocational Opportunities Inc., she has hit the ground running.

According to Gary Yelton, RVO executive director, “Kim brings a wealth of experience and expertise to our agency. Her varied interests and skills will certainly be an asset to the consumers we serve.”

A graduate of North Rowan High School, Walton aspired to be an attorney and began her tenure at Catawba College as a political science major.

Walton was inspired by her high school English teacher, Jean Kennedy. “She helped me realize that every day is different, and it really fulfilled my sense of purpose watching her help young people expand their horizons while growing and maturing,” she said.

Walton returned to North Rowan, where she completed her student teaching under Kennedy. “With her guidance and mentorship, I found my experience to be exciting, informative and rewarding,” Walton said.

After graduating and entering the teaching ranks, Walton soon got the urge to try something else. “With changes in education funding and policies and procedures affecting how teachers could do their jobs, I decided to try something else,” she said.

She worked for two years as a police dispatcher and parking enforcement officer.

“One day while I was in court, I saw a young man that I had previously taught who was in handcuffs and shackles,” Walton said. “Overcome with emotion, he said to me, ‘I would not have dropped out and gotten into trouble if you had remained my teacher.’ That really pulled on my heart strings.”

“Almost immediately, the fire and the passion were rekindled, and I was ready to get back into education.”

She returned to North Rowan as a comprehensive tutor and girls tennis coach.

Walton worked with elementary, junior and senior high school students over the years.

“As time passed, I realized the more I taught, the more I needed to learn. Frequently I thought about the effect that Mrs. Kennedy had on me and how it was such a challenge to keep things interesting and impactful every day,” she stated.

“Having the opportunity to work with special-needs children as a teacher and principal, I felt a strong sense of being needed and appreciated,” Walton said.

While earning her master’s degree from Appalachian State University, Walton spent a lot of time working with people with developmental disabilities.

“Each day at RVO, my students are anxious and inquisitive about what they are going to study and learn. It’s like they are empowered and hungry to learn more,” Walton said. “As the students feel more comfortable and confident, they begin relating practical experiences and skills they have learned to real-life job training and preparation.”

Walton’s husband, Alan, is a teacher at North Rowan Middle School. She is an avid sports fan and former athlete. This past summer, her two children competed in national tournaments. Brandon, a senior at West Rowan High School, played for the Rowan County American Legion team that advanced to the American Legion World Series in Shelby. Younger sister Taylor pitched a no-hitter in the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Oregon.




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