Meet Kathy Beam, 2020 Most Admired Woman — Education
Head of School, Meredith-Dunn School
Family: Spouse Mike Beam; son Scott and wife Leslie; grandchildren Nick, seventh grade, and Lucy, fifth grade.
Neighborhood: Old Brownsboro Road
Kathy Beam is grieving the end of her lifelong career in education. She retired this school year after 18 years as head of school at Meredith-Dunn School and leaves behind a community she loves. Because of school closings, she missed the opportunity, she says, to have closure with them. Her faith is very important, and she prays to remember how very blessed she is at this moment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHAT DID YOU FIND DIFFICULT ABOUT HAVING TO WORK FROM HOME?
It’s difficult to lose the one-on-one interaction with my students and faculty. I normally greet them every morning and get to know them personally and in the classroom. Meredith-Dunn is a school
for students with learning difficulties, and trying to still deliver instruction is a challenge. I could enter each Google Classroom every day and interact with the students and teachers, but it’s not the same as face-to-face.
I really am a homebody. I speak in front of groups of people frequently, but I prefer not being the one front and center. Personality-wise I’m more of an introvert than I appear to be.
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER TURNED OUT DIFFERENTLY THAN YOU THOUGHT?
The opportunities that were presented to me in terms of leadership were not anticipated. I had no aspirations to be the head of a school. I had to take a personal risk to come to Meredith-Dunn because the opportunity to lead a school was very exciting for me.
WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO MEREDITH-DUNN?
In the mid-’70s, I was an elementary school teacher. It was that experience that led me to seek more training in the field of special education. I encountered students with learning difficulties and felt it was my responsibility to teach these children in different ways. I then earned a Master of Education in learning disabilities from the University of Kentucky. I worked as special education consultant for the Archdiocese of Louisville. Before that I was child development specialist with the Deaf Oral School (now Heuser Hearing Institute).
WHAT WORD WOULD DESCRIBE YOU?
Nurturing. I place a great deal of value on the relationships I have with people.
I’m hoping there will still be opportunities to travel when this pandemic is over. There are so many places that I put off seeing and hope to visit. I’d like to visit Italy — really all of Europe — and New England. My husband and I lived in Rhode Island when we were first married, and I’d like to go back to that area.
Read. I enjoy historical fiction and novels with a happy ending. I like stories with engaging characters and reading about their lives.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A TEACHER?
I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was young. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I fixed up a mock classroom in our basement and offered my younger brother my allowance if he would be my student. I used discarded teaching materials and had a small chalkboard.
CAN’T QUITE GET THE KNACK OF?
I wish I was more adept at the creative use of technology. I have learned to do what I need to do but wish I had the skill set to utilize more of the technology at my disposal. You learn what you have to do, but each task comes with a different learning curve.