Giggle Magazine’s Featured Educator: Karen Bethel

By Giggle Magazine

At what school do you currently work?

Howard Bishop Middle School.

What is your position?

Assistant Principal.

How long have you been working in education?

18 years.

What is your favorite book? 

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

What was your favorite subject in school? 

Math, of course.

What inspired you to work in education?

I was inspired to work in education by my mother, who was a veteran educator. My mother carried the same care and compassion for her students at school as she did her very own children. I would see her work countless hours on “school work,” tutoring, parent conferences after school, local organization meetings for education reform, home visits and holiday meal deliveries to the homes of students in poverty. Although she taught the primary grade levels, she was often still active in the lives of students that had moved on or through high school.

What path did you take to become assistant principal of Howard Bishop Middle School?

After spending eight years as dean of students at Westwood Middle School, I knew that it was time to grow to the next level. I enjoyed working with students to develop strategies and interventions to modify poor classroom behaviors. I applied to become a part of the Aspiring Leadership Academy that was designed for those interested in educational leadership roles. I was ready for a role that would allow me to impact the lives of students on a larger scale. I also looked forward to mentoring and developing other leaders in the field of education.

What is your favorite part of being assistant principal?

It is very difficult to narrow down a specific favorite part of my role. I am happy to be a part of the dynamic faculty and staff here at Howard Bishop Middle School. The lights in our classrooms are shining bright before the sun rises and long after the sun goes down every day.  Our Hawk staff willingly invest whatever time and labor it takes to help their students learn and grow. We all want to know and feel that we are valued. I enjoy developing different ways to show appreciation for all that they do. I look forward to the time that I get to interact with the students. The math teacher in me can’t help but to find a reason to sit and work with a student that needs that extra support solving math equations at lunch or before/after school. It makes me proud to see the growth in our students from the time that they enter in August until they exit in June.

What has been your funniest interaction with a student?

My funniest interaction was attempting to de-escalate a student that was increasingly upset about a situation. He would not allow me to have a discussion with him. He would not take a seat. He went to grab a chair to throw across my office. The only thing that I could think of in that moment was to place my right hand over my heart and sing the National Anthem as loud as I could. He dropped the chair, placed his right hand over his heart and joined me. An audience with faces of confusion was piled in my doorway by the time we completed the song. That was the end of that meltdown.