Victoria “Vickie” Oakley knew at a young age that she wanted to become a teacher to help children learn how to read.  Growing up in Alexandria, VA, right outside of Washington D.C., she suffered from dyslexia, a learning di...

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May Instructor Spotlight

          Kate Rustad is a twenty-four-year-old EdForce instructor, currently teaching grades nine through twelve at Richmond Community High School, part of Richmond Public Schools, in Virginia.  With a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Virginia Tech and a master’s degree in Linguistics, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kate strives to take the knowledge she learned throughout her years in college to teach others and help them grow.  Although this is her first year as a public K-12 instructor, teaching Spanish III and IV, she developed two years of teaching experience while earning her master’s degree.

           In an ongoing effort to resolve the teacher shortage, the University Instructors EdForce team found Kate a position by giving her resources about the interview process and preparing her with mock interviews.  The team also provided an experienced instructional coach, Larry Marks.  Larry frequently checks in with Kate, observes her classes at multiple levels, and delivers constructive feedback.  Having Larry as a support system has been her favorite part of being an EdForce instructor and describes his help as “invaluable and reassuring” because she knows there is always someone who has her back.

           As Kate’s EdForce instructional coach and mentor, Larry says she has proven that she can teach Spanish, while also building a positive relationship with students. “Kate is one of the best first-year Spanish teachers I have had the opportunity to work with during my career as an educator,” says Larry. “She is an awesome teacher and role model for students and her peers.”

           Kate enjoys being an instructor because she can watch her students grow daily.  She expresses thankfulness that her students are committed to their future and invested in their education.  As a high school educator, no two days are the same, and she has the chance to teach students who are finding themselves. 

           “This is an opportunity that I definitely do not take for granted,” Kate states.  “It is equally as rewarding to see my students grow socially, as it is to watch them get a handle on the Spanish language.  I try to keep the energy upbeat in my classes and provide students with an outlet to talk about their language and culture as they learn about those of others. They inspire me to be my best self.”



          Every day, Kate likes to incorporate linguistics and culture into her lessons to help assist with the learning of Spanish. Her goal is to explain why individuals speak the way they do in both English and Spanish.  Additionally, she blends material from other classes into her lessons, such as history and geography, to make sure students get as much information out of her classes as possible.  As the year goes on, she has gotten much better at reading the room.  If she notices a student with a confused face, she knows to elaborate more on the concepts she is teaching,.  During group class work, Kate will often put students of differing levels together to create variation.  A student with more Spanish knowledge can help others, which helps build stronger relationships.  Along with this, she has worksheets available for those students who finish early to continue challenging themselves.

          While it is important to learn the core content of Spanish, Kate ultimately believes that students earning how to contribute positively to society is key.  Educators take on the responsibility of teaching students who will create the basis of everyone’s future, so it’s crucial that they prepare for that.

           “Kate creates an active student involvement by using role-playing with students speaking Spanish, cooperative learning, high-level thinking skills, and real-world experiences and application,” Larry states. “Her instructional delivery and enthusiasm for teaching and learning help increase learning opportunities for all students.”

           When she’s not in the classroom, Kate enjoys contributing to the school community and says it is easy to be a team player because the Richmond Community High School teaching team is very dedicated to student’s wellbeing and education.  For example, she recently helped put on a Foreign Language Night with two of her colleagues, Ms. Braaten and Mr. Wilkey.  She believes the event was not only a great success, but that the whole community thoroughly enjoyed it.

           We would like to thank Kate for her endless dedication to her students and the Richmond community.  We look forward to watching her grow and learning of her continued successes!