For Kathy Ramsour, there is something very special in knowing her career began at Northwest Elementary, and will end at Northwest when she retires at the end of the school year.
“I graduated early from college and began substitute teaching in January for a fourth grade teacher who was on maternity leave,” she said. “During those days, you couldn’t continue teaching if you were more than six months along and showing so I began teaching for her in the spring semester in 1972.”
Ramsour was born in Garden City but graduated from Dodge City High School, Dodge City Community College and St. Mary of the Plains. She later received her master’s degree in Counseling from Fort Hays State, as well as a Building Leader’s Certification and District Level Certification. But teaching was not always her plan.
“Growing up, I wanted to be a nurse but I found out I couldn’t stand the sight of blood so that wasn’t going to work for me,” she said. “When I was in high school, they took us all to a conference room and told the girls they could be secretaries, telephone operators, nurses, hair dressers or teachers.”
Ramsour taught at Sunnyside for 13 years before becoming a counselor.
“I was in the basement of the Methodist Church and Hennessey Hall at Saint Mary’s when they were both Sixth Grade Centers, the middle school and Northwest,” she said. “During the time I was Counselor at Northwest, our Principal became very ill and was gone a couple of months. I helped out then and have been helping ever since. The teachers at Northwest made the transitions from Counselor to Principal so easy and rewarding for me.”
Ramsour’s grandpa was a teacher and a principal. She also has an uncle who was a teacher, principal, Superintendent and President of Ottawa University. Her sister was a teacher at Northwest before becoming a principal in another state. Now, Ramsour’s daughter is a fourth generation principal, after accepting the position at Wilroads Gardens Elementary School this fall.
“I know a couple of my grandchildren want to become teachers so we will keep the desire to teach alive in our family for many generations to come,” Ramsour said.
Ramsour said not only working with children, but seeing them become adults is the most rewarding part of her job.
“They keep me real. Where else can you get hugs, told you smell good, have your old high heels envied and be critiqued as if you are on a red carpet runway,” she said. “Each day, I’m humbled by a child’s inner strength to learn. I get to watch superior teachers believing in children and allowing children to believe in themselves every day.”
Many of Ramsour’s former students are now working at Northwest.
“Plus, my own doctor, banker, dentist, judge, car dealer, and school psychologist were Northwest students,” she said. “That is awesome!”
One of her role models, former principal Leland Kincaid, once told her that education is like a pendulum, it will go back and forth all the time. Ramsour said she believes that and currently feels communication and social interaction are beginning to take a backseat in our daily lives.
“If you go out to eat sometime, look around at the number of people on cell phones and electronic games,” she said. “We need to talk to our children, eat together without phones, look in each other’s faces as we speak, and embrace teaching children to problem solve”
She said one of the best cartoons she’s ever seen was one by “Family Circus.”
“Little Billy is looking at his Dad who was reading the paper. He was trying to tell him something and says, ‘Daddy, you have to listen with your eyes, too,’” she said. “That was so powerful. We all need to listen with our eyes and see the person we are talking to.”
Ramsour feels very fortunate to have worked with the teachers and staff she has.
“I have seen these wonderful people make huge differences in a child,” she said. “They feel the pain the child feels, laugh at the joys, lose sleep trying to think of what would work with a certain child and embrace the change and challenges we have every day in education.”
She is also proud of the community that’s been home to her and her husband for many years, a community in which she raised her children and where four of her six grandchildren reside.
“Dodge City passed a bond to support every school in our district! That was a great accomplishment we did as a community and I am so excited for our school and what building projects we will have to look forward to,” she said. “And yes, Northwest will finally get a lunchroom!”
Ramsour said she plans on continuing to be a strong part of the community once she retires.
“I hope Don and I can travel, be involved with our grandkids’ activities, and do more with my family and friends in town,” she said. “My biggest wish right now is that Don cleans the basement before I retire so I won’t have to!”
But while she’s looking forward to her retirement, she’s also going to miss ‘everything from the children’s behaviors before the first snow to the excitement before their music program.’
“Schools are reflections of who we are. My identity, who I am, began when I was a 5 years old starting school,” she said. “So now, I’m not sure who I will become once I get up in the morning and don’t have to go to school every day. But, I believe it will be a wonderful adventure and a new chapter in my life’s story. “
Superintendent Alan Cunningham said that even though Ramsour will be missed, her influence and impact as an educator will go on and on in the lives of her students and teachers.
“Kathy Ramsour is one of those unique individuals who gives her whole being to whatever she does. For the past 44 years, she has served as teacher, counselor, and elementary principal for thousands of our community’s young people,” he said. “Having grown up in Dodge City, Kathy’s pride in her community, our school district, and her school is seen in everything she does. “