The Dream to Teach
By: Leslie Sanchez
Kristine Van Buskirk is one of the newest teachers to come down to Ayala High School. As a 9th grade Math teacher, she enjoys working with fresh faces.
“I have all freshmen and we were both just as scared, you know, me starting the job and them starting high school, together so it was kind of a fun match,'' she said.
She was a bit nervous to start at a completely new school but the students made her feel welcome. “We could get silly here and there but we always come back to doing Math. The students make teaching fun."
Before teaching, Mrs. Van Buskirk was a Math tutor for 20 years. She loved watching her students succeed through their homework problems and their test scores. “That really helped me become a teacher. Coming in here, it was like living my dream that I finally got to do and teach on a broad scale to more people. I loved it,” she said.
Her children also made an impact on her decision of becoming a teacher. “I have four kids and so by being a mom to them and helping them with school and just seeing what they’re going through at school, made me become a teacher.”
Mrs. Van Buskirk enjoys helping the students succeed in Math. She makes sure to help them in every way that she can, so they can keep their success in the class, as well as understand the material as they go along.
“I have all freshmen so I feel the more information I can give them of what they’re doing wrong then the better they could fix their error… I grade everything they do so that way they could see what they’ve done wrong, they could correct their mistakes and they could actually learn from their mistakes,” she explained.
As a child, Mrs. Van Buskirk loved Math, right from the start. Initially, she didn’t want people to know it was her favorite subject. “I didn’t like people to know I liked Math because it was nerdy so I always pretended like I didn’t like Math.”
She shared a childhood memory of hers. “I remember specifically in 3rd grade when we learned multiplication for the first time and I thought that was the coolest magic trick I had ever seen. It was like ‘You get this and this and you’d get an even bigger number.’ It felt magic to me. So I’ve always loved Math. I just kind of hid that talent I guess you could say.”
The people who most inspired her career were her high school Math teachers. “I didn’t realize how much I loved my Math teachers, but whenever I thought about my favorite teachers, it was always my Math teachers.”
Her teaching methods were influenced by them. She loved the way they taught, how flexible they were and easy to communicate with. “I take how my teachers treated me. That’s how I treat my students because I loved the class and felt comfortable there. I felt like I could ask them questions because they weren’t scary. They really helped me choose what kind of teacher I wanted to be.”
Believe it or not but Mrs. Van Buskirk didn’t always want to become a Math teacher. Once she got out of high school, she thought about becoming a lawyer, but after a while it didn’t work out.
“When I graduated high school, I thought to be a lawyer because I liked the idea of the money and then I took a couple of classes along and thought ‘This is boring. I don’t want to do this.’ So I took a long, long hiatus from school, which is bad but I got it done once I started having kids, and once I was done I knew what I wanted,” she explained.
She loves her family and considers them to be her greatest success. “When I see them succeed or do anything, I’m so proud. I feel like ‘Are those really mine?’ You know? I just want to show them off. So I believe that’s my biggest accomplishment, my family and my husband.”
Considering the idea of retiring in the far future, Mrs. Van Buskirk plans on traveling the world with her husband and wishes for nothing more.
For those who plan on becoming a Math teacher or a teacher in general, Mrs. Van Buskirk recommends to never overlook it. “Don’t knock it. It’s not a bad one. If you love Math and you’re good at explaining it, we always need good Math teachers. But being a teacher is always a fun thing. It’s not the best pay but there’s many other perks like the hours I get to be with my kids more. When they get home at 3, I’m usually home around 3:30, I have holidays and summer off with my kids.”
Aside from imparting valuable math skills to the next generation, Mrs. Van Buskirk believes that teaching has been the perfect career for her family. “Obviously everything goes back to my kids. I would say being a teacher is really good if you’re going to be a family person.”