Vicki Klatt - St. Andrew's School of Math and Science
Becoming an educator was never part of Vickie Klatt’s career plan. She had her sights set on the FBI, hoping to follow in the footsteps of her grandfather who served in the CIA. Even though she was on a partial baton twirling scholarship, she quickly realized that the student loans were beginning to add up. Klatt needed a change of course.
Klatt was a competitive baton twirler between the ages of 4 years old and 19. She qualified twice to compete in the Miss America Program. As a way to pay for college, she opened a baton twirling studio for children. During that time period, she had qualified for Miss South Carolina representing Berea and Pickens communities. One of the components of competing in Miss SC is to create a platform and to become involved with community service. Klatt developed a self-esteem program through her platform called I CAN. The program grew into a club and she took it to the local elementary schools where she taught baton twirling and wove in elements of self-esteem.
Upon graduation from Clemson University, she went into law enforcement with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office. She served for six years. During that time she taught the D.A.R.E. Program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to fifth-graders across the county.
“I fell in love working with the kids,” said Klatt. “That’s when I decided to go back to Clemson to obtain my teaching certification. I was drawn to working with children. I had a very supportive village growing up, even though I wasn’t the easiest child to teach or coach at times. I had real positive influencers in my life and I wanted to be that for others.”
Today the 22-year veteran teacher looks back on her decision with pride. Klatt’s many years at the head of the classroom have earned her the honor of being selected as a Top-5 Teacher of the Year Finalist for Charleston County School District (CCSD).
Before Klatt arrived at St. Andrews School of Math and Science she taught at an art school in the upstate and taught baton twirling as an enrichment course. For 11 years her students put on full productions for their classmates and families. After a stint in Virginia Beach, her family returned to the upstate, where she was able to coach a competitive high school cheerleading team.
“I am a firm believer in giving back,” said Klatt. “I love teaching and I am very connected to students in and out of the classroom. I go to their games, concerts, and recitals. I ask for their schedules so I can attend their events. I love seeing my students out of the classroom doing what they enjoy.”
Klatt said she has enjoyed these last two years at St. Andrews. She is a virtual third-grade teacher and said she accepted and embraced virtual learning with an open mind.
“I did home visits to educate parents about the equipment and the processes,” said Klatt. “Everything came together and it turned out to be a successful year, despite the negativity that surrounded it.”
Klatt is thrilled to be a teacher at St. Andrews.
“What sets this school apart is the community, the act that we are a true neighborhood school and our strong PTA and SIC,” said Klatt. “Our parents are incredibly generous and have already donated towards projects we have planned for next year. The teachers here are also very close-knit and always there for each other.”
Beyond the informative lessons, Klatt meets with small groups after school for tutoring and support with the virtual platform. She was recognized by the district for her Veteran's Day Display. She wrote a fine arts grant for the entire third grade to experience drumming and instruments from around the world.
Klatt says those things would not be possible without the support of her Principal Amy Cario.
“We are going to miss her when she retires at the end of this year,” said Klatt. “Someone will have big shoes to fill. I absolutely adore her. She has been supportive of her teachers and is a good balance between the parents and the teachers. Mrs. Cario allows parents to voice their concerns and she addresses them all while being the teacher’s biggest support system.”
Klatt goes the extra mile for her students because she wants to expose her students to new things.
Klatt’s husband is also a district teacher at Charleston Charter School for Math & Science. The like-minded couple has enjoyed their careers. They both love every aspect of teaching.
“I especially like seeing these kids grow and progress,” said Klatt. “I keep in touch with my former students and follow their college paths or their career choices.”
Klatt has no regrets about not following her original law enforcement dreams.
“My passion is witnessing those aha moments,” said Klatt. “When that light bulb goes off, that’s what drives me to be the best educator I can be.”
Klatt acknowledges that everyone has room for improvement. In fact, she learns from her students every day.
“One student reached a correct answer using a totally different strategy than what was taught,” said Klatt. “I always tell my students there are many ways to get to an answer. This student used a strategy that I had not seen before. As an educator, I tell my students to use the strategy that works best for them to get to the correct end result. My student’s eyes lit up when I began to use her strategy to teach the skill.”
“Mrs. Klatt is such a dedicated administrator to her students,” said Principal Cario. “The students here absolutely adore her. She is not only the teacher's biggest cheerleader but also the students.”
Klatt said being an educator involves constant trial and error.
“There is not an educator 101 book,” said Klatt. “We have to stay flexible and open-minded and most importantly passionate about continuing to learn and stay strong for the team and the students. If this year doesn’t prove that, nothing will.”