In Kathi Sims’ classroom, books are experiential and they come to life. She has developed a three-year curriculum, so that her students are continually stimulated with new material with which they engage in dramatic play and learning.
Thus, when studying Where the Wild Things Are, she sets up Max’s bed with a sheet for the sail on his boat. Vines and trees ‘grow’ from the ceiling or walls, continually spreading as the days pass and the children make their own “wild things” costumes. When focusing on The Very Busy Spider, the giant spider in the corner weaves her web while the children are away each day until the entire room becomes covered in webbing. Her handwriting, reading, large motor and social skills, and counting lessons are all based upon the books, as are the snacks and sensory tables in her room.
“Ms. Kathi” is a vocal advocate for full inclusion in early childhood settings and she creates an environment where children can explore and learn together regardless of their skills, needs, learning styles, limitations, or abilities. She is dedicated to educating young children, their parents, community members, and other professionals about the importance of teaching all preschoolers together. As a result, children with special needs are afforded strong role models and childrenwithout special needs are given the opportunity to develop empathy and peer acceptance at an early age.
Sims earned a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education/Early Childhood from St. Cloud University in 1995. In 2005, she was Nationally Board Certified as a Special Education Specialist, Birth to age 18.
Sims has served on the Foley United Educators board for 16 years and is currently the President; she has also served as Membership Chair, Vice President, and Co-President. She is the Chair of her local’s Growth and Evaluation Committee, and Co-Chair of her school district’s Peer Coaching and Mentoring program. At the state level she served as Vice President of GRAC, a Minnesota intermediate organization, for eight years. At the national level, she represents NEA as a member of the Board of Examiners for the National Council for Accreditation for Teacher Educators (NCATE).