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Continuing Studies

Alumni

  • Kim Wendt
    Kim Wendt

Kim Wendt ’06

Class Year

’06

Major(s)

Master of Education in Educational Leadership

Current position

Science Teacher at Mitchell Middle School in Racine, Wisconsin

Kim (Harrod) Wendt ’06 had quite a few reasons to celebrate.

Due to her efforts, Mitchell Middle School in Racine, Wisconsin, was able to remodel four of their science classrooms through the Pepsi Refresh Challenge, a national grant competition.

She was selected as the 2012 Teacher of the Year by the Racine Area Manufacturer and Commerce (RAMAC) for its Excellence in Education awards. Each year RAMAC selects three educators and one educational program for their Excellence in Education awards. (That year’s Administrator of the Year award recipient was another Carthage graduate, Eliot Underhill.)

“It takes the acknowledgment of others that you model yourself after to truly realize that what I’m doing is reaching beyond my classroom and affecting more than just my ‘Mitchell family,’” she said of the RAMAC award. “I am both humbled and honored to have achieved this with so much of my teaching career ahead of me. I still have much to accomplish.”

Currently, Ms. Wendt is an eighth grade science teacher at Mitchell Middle School in Racine. She graduated from Carthage in 2003 with an undergraduate degree in biology. but after working for the Racine Zoo, she realized that education was her passion. She returned to Carthage through the Accelerated Certification for Teachers program, from which she graduated in 2005. Ms. Wendt came back a final time and was awarded her master’s degree in educational leadership in 2006.

“Ironically my time at Carthage caused me to want to go into the sciences, and I actually changed my major from education to biology after my freshman year,” Ms. Wendt said. “Dr. Hegrenes and Dr. Radwanski definitely made an impact on my decision to go into the sciences. They made science come alive and impactful. I wasn’t sure if science was for me until I had their classes.”

Now she is continuing the tradition by making science come alive for her own students. As an educator, she loves making a difference in the lives of her students.

“To be the person who makes science engaging, relevant and fun is empowering,” Ms. Wendt said. “All while teaching each student that they matter and are important, building those relationships are the best.”

The Pepsi Refresh Challenge helped her to build relationships with her students and to teach them the importance of unity, as well as the power of voting. Her campaign began in March 2011 after hearing an advertisement on the radio for the challenge. Ms. Wendt thought that it would be the best way to raise money to convert Mitchell Middle School’s outdated seventh and eighth grade science classrooms into a safer, more engaging science wing.

She submitted the Pepsi Refresh online application, but was denied because the entries were over-capacity. After battling a few glitches in the system, her submission was made in April and the marketing began with the help of her Carthage network of friends.

“I ordered pencils, T-shirts, yard signs, buttons and more that were distributed anywhere and everywhere I went,” she said. “I sent emails out to anyone I knew. Care packages full of posters and goodies went out to every school in the district. For my spring break, I flew to LA to meet up with a friend in the sciences who had contacts at many of the colleges and we spread the word. The stewardess on both of my American Airline flights let me pass out pencils and tell the plane about my cause. The Racine Journal Times and Racine Post had already run multiple articles and said they would support me until the end. Now the trick was getting enough votes to keep us in the top 10 in the nation so we would win. We had one month.”

The school held a massive pep rally to encourage students to vote and spread the word. On opening day, they were in sixth place. Where originally there was skepticism, there was now excitement and belief. The proposal ended up placing third in the nation out of 400 projects, was the first Wisconsin winner, and was also one of the first winners in the education category.

After winning the grant — a $50,000 prize — construction began on the new science wing. They tore down the walls separating the four original classrooms and added sliding-glass partitions that allow teachers to create their own classroom configurations. There is also a new science library and office for the teachers. Winning the Pepsi Refresh Challenge was a “dream come true” for Ms. Wendt, who was at the school every day for two months overseeing the project. Undoubtedly, she said, the most amazing part of the project is the impact that it has had on the students.

“Seeing students believe they are catalysts for change,” Ms. Wendt said is one of the most rewarding parts of winning the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. “That if you work hard and believe in making a difference you can. They lived it. They made that science wing safe, fun and an unbelievable place to learn. What they did affects so many each year. They have no idea the ripples their actions have caused. It was great to see them view themselves as winners, some for the first time.”

All of her success in 2011 has taught her that big ideas aren’t necessarily unattainable.

“Don’t give up,” is her advice for future educators. “Don’t be afraid to dream big and be an advocate for change. You’ll never know if those crazy ideas turn out to be an amazing success until you try.”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2017), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

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    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

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    • In 2016 and 2017, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

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    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

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    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

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    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 11 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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