Published: April 14, 2023
Kassidy Whittemore

Even though COVID-19 drastically changed schooling the semester Kassidy Whittemore decided to change her major from political science to history and pursue teacher licensure, she found that teaching and working with students was her true passion. 

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘what if I wake up one day and realize I don't want to do science?’” she said. “Funny enough, that is exactly what happened.”

She changed her major to history with a minor in political science and enrolled in teacher licensure classes, and the rest is, well, history. Now a middle school teacher, she brings joy, compassion, and criticality to her work, and she has been selected as the Secondary Humanities MA+ licensure program’s 2023 Outstanding Graduate.

“​​I feel very lucky to be a part of this program and am grateful I was able to complete both my BA and my MA at CU,” said the Colorado Springs-born graduate.

Curious and passionate, Whittemore  poses questions that challenge her classmates while maintaining humility and dedication to her own learning. When planning lessons, she considers different viewpoints, perspectives, and the diversity of her students. 

Whittemore makes the content of U.S. history meaningful to her students’ lives and intentionally designs lessons that allow students to examine, question, and complicate common historical narratives. During a unit on the Revolutionary War, for example, she showcased untold stories of the Revolution, and she always creates lessons with consideration of the multiple preferences, strengths, and needs of learners. 

Whittemore uses trust and compassion to build relationships with students outside of the classroom, and she immerses herself in the school community through participation in co-curricular activities and special projects and chaperoning a school dance.

“It is not uncommon to see students spending their lunch period in Kassidy and her mentor teacher’s classroom, reading, chatting, and playing games on their Chromebooks,” her faculty nominators said.

“Kassidy is a continual learner and reflective educator. She critically reflects upon her practice as she considers the role of power, privilege, and positioning in education and how teachers and students can act as agents of change.”

In Her Own Words

Please tell us a bit about yourself

 CU was originally not my first choice for undergrad, but it was for graduate school. I am from Colorado Springs, and I originally thought I wanted to be an engineer and attend Colorado School of Mines. When I received my acceptance to CU for undergrad, though, I knew that I needed to go there instead. I remember thinking to myself, "what if I wake up one day and realize I don't want to do science?" Funny enough, that is exactly what happened. I ended up switching to a history major, and had political science as a minor. My sophomore year, I decided to try out education classes because of an RA coworker of mine (Sophie Friedman, who won this award for the STEM side of our program) told me all about her work with students. Although COVID shut things down that same semester, I knew I wanted to go into teaching and working with students. I did research and found that the MA+ program was the best fit for me, and with the support of various CU professors, I was accepted into the program. I feel very lucky to be a part of this program and am grateful I was able to complete both my BA and my MA at CU."

What is one of the lessons from your time at CU Boulder that you’ll carry with you into the next chapter?

A lesson that I will take with me into the next chapter of my life is to enjoy things while you have them. I have seen CU in many stages, meaning I went here before, during, and after COVID shutdowns. I have also been able to accomplish many big things while attending CU, like growing in my residence life position, making lifelong friends, and being accepted into the MA+ program! Through all of these big life moments and the ups and downs of the world in general, I have realized how important it is to savor the time I have had here even though it is coming to a close. While this part of my life cannot last forever, I've learned to be thankful it all even happened in the first place.”

What does graduating from CU Boulder represent for you and/or your community?

Graduating from CU this year means a lot to my family and I. All of my schooling and my performance has been supported by my Mom, my brother, Max, my sister, Becca, and my boyfriend, Jacob. I have also been greatly supported by my close friends and my MA+ classmates throughout my time at CU. Graduating this year is the culmination of the support I have received from all of the people close to me in my life. I have been very lucky to have these people surrounding me and am proud to represent them and their support upon graduating.”

What is your best piece of advice for incoming students?

It is ok to lean on others and ask for help when you need it. Whether you are looking to your friends, your classmates, or your professors, they are always going to be there to assist you in whatever you need. Sometimes life gets stressful, and you may not know what to do or how to approach things- this is when you can look to the people who truly want to see you succeed for help on what to do next. I was always someone who tried to avoid asking for help or for guidance, but the community amongst staff and students in the School of Education is one that encourages getting support. .”

What continues to drive your passion for your work after graduation?

Being able to see my students every day and see them grow over the school year is what drives my passion for my work now, and I know it will continue to drive me in the future. The best part of working with students is seeing them light up while participating in discussions and when they make connections between the things we learn. This year I feel that I have been able to help students get more comfortable and confident in doing both of those things. The students' growth in social studies has been apparent over this year, and I look forward to seeing that in my students in the upcoming years.”

Outstanding grad Kassidy collage