This past summer, Christina Kim traded beach life in Los Angeles for an East Coast adventure — that included lots of snow! — with her husband and twin 9-year-old boys. Part of the new adventure? Taking on the role of lower school counselor at The Park School of Baltimore.
Moving across the country and starting a new job can be daunting at any time, but the stress can be especially high during a global pandemic when you’re tasked with cultivating the social and emotional wellbeing of young students. Christina, not surprisingly, found the reception at Park School to be warm and welcoming, even with social distancing measures and masks in place.
She sat down to chat with us about what drew her to the school, how she’s bringing the RULER approach to campus so that the school can further enhance their ‘whole child’ approach to education, and how she’s spending quality time with her kids.
Meet Christina Kim, Park School of Baltimore Lower School Counselor
Tell us a little bit about your experiences working in schools. What drew you to Park?
I am currently the lower school counselor at The Park School of Baltimore. I bring the perspective of having been a classroom teacher, clinical social worker and program director at independent schools to my role here at Park. I was drawn to Park’s mission and commitment to fostering the whole child, both the academic and the social emotional being and in “cultivating children’s innate curiosity by nurturing their interests and engaging them as active participants” in their learning process. I also appreciate the school’s commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by building a community where all people feel welcomed and belonged.
What does a regular day — is there such a thing? — look like for you?
I check in with the lower school office – we have an amazing and dedicated team here who really understands how to support each child as a learner through their various developmental stages. I spend some time in different classrooms, whether it’s in a Kindergarten classroom doing a read aloud lesson and plotting characters on the Mood Meter, or a 3rd grade classroom engaging students in interactive social skills and community building activity. I see children individually and in groups, oftentimes children initiate and ask to have a check in with me and their friends to problem solve through conflicts. We encourage children at Park to seek out adults when they need help, or want to share about anything that’s going on in their lives.
I’m also often collaborating with teachers and parents in finding ways to support the social emotional learning both at school and at home. Building that home school connection is key in supporting the child.
Can you tell us about the social emotional programming at Park? What is the RULER approach?
One of the core values at Park is building empathy and perspective taking and working cooperatively together. Therefore, social emotional learning is interwoven and taught in all grades. RULER is a research-based approach to social and emotional learning developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. RULER is an acronym that stands for the 5 skills of emotional intelligence – First we need to Recognize our emotions in ourselves and others, Understand the causes of our feelings, Label our feelings with the right word so that we can Express our feelings appropriately and find strategies to Regulate our emotions. RULER is integrated into the curriculum by the teachers in the classroom to build these integral skills of emotional intelligence throughout the different grades.
When you’re not at work, where would we most likely find you?
Well during the pandemic, I’m usually on walks and hikes to get some movement and fresh air. I’m also spending time with my twin boys and husband playing games together, like ping pong, video games, board games, and making things together like trying out new recipes and most recently, designing and creating Rube Goldberg contraptions with whatever materials we have in the house.
In closing, tell us something that is important to know about you and who you are.
I’m a big fan of children. I enjoy being around children of all ages, learning from them, interacting with them, seeing them with their full range of emotions and problem solving together. It keeps me in that place of a learner, always discovering new things about myself and the world around me.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our School Spotlight Series. In this series, we spotlight our partner schools to give you a glimpse into what learning looks like on their campus. To learn more about The Park School of Baltimore, visit their directory listing in our Independent School Directory. Images were provided by the school. Want to become a school partner? Email us.