Maybell School teacher brings years of rural school teaching experience

Lauren Blair
Maybell School paraprofessional Taylor Smith and teacher Carol Kilmer gear up for the new school year Monday morning following family connection day with students and parents. Smith is a Maybell native and Kilmer brings with her years of rural schoolhouse experience.
Lauren Blair

— Generations of Maybell residents celebrated the re-opening of the Maybell School this week as a fresh crop of kindergarten through fifth-grade students filled the rooms, halls and playground with their energy.

Nine students registered to attend this year, including a half-day kindergarten student, two first- and third-graders, three fourth-graders and one fifth-grader

“It’s close-knit and more personal,” said parent Anna Floeter, whose daughter, Deanna, is a student at Maybell School. “It’s just important to us for her to have that small school experience. We were overjoyed when we heard Maybell School was re-opening.”

There to teach the youngsters this year are one-room-schoolhouse veteran Carol Kilmer and Maybell native, Taylor Smith, hired as a paraprofessional to assist Kilmer.

Originally from Ohio, Kilmer moved west early and graduated from the University of Wyoming. She taught for 25 years in the Niobrara County School District in Wyoming, taking a one-year leave to teach in an isolated one-room schoolhouse in Alaska. She also spent six years teaching at a rural school in her district, mostly without the help of a para.

“It’s a great situation,” Kilmer said. “I do like the community support we’re going to have here… The families are nice and everyone is so willing to help out.”

After retiring from Niobrara County, Kilmer had been spending more time in Craig with her grandchildren and substitute teaching in Moffat County School District. When administrators discovered her wealth of experience, they offered her the position.

“So I said sure. I was excited,” Kilmer said. “Retirement is not all its cracked up to be. I’d rather be busy.”

A 2010 Moffat County High School graduate, Smith had worked at the front desk of The Memorial Hospital Medical Clinic as well as at Bear Creek Animal Hospital prior to spending a year at home with her kids.

A student of Maybell School herself, she comes from a long line of Maybell School attendees, including her grandfather, Darryl Steele, and has young ones of her own who may attend in a few years.

“I’ve always wanted to be an elementary teacher,” Smith said, adding that she originally went to college to become an elementary school teacher.

Smith will assist Kilmer by helping students with practice work and small groups, while Kilmer ensures that each of the students covers the necessary curriculum for their grade level.

“I love the kids, watching them make progress and become better writers and readers,” Kilmer said. “I love listening to the kids, they have great insight.”

Teaching in a one-room schoolhouse, though it comes with unique challenges, also offers unique opportunities, she said.

“It’s that one-on-one possibility when there’s less children, really getting to know them and help them deepen their understanding about things,” Kilmer said. “And when the older ones help the younger ones, it cements their learning because they have to vocalize it.”

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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