Wildcat of the Week: Cathryn Monroe

DHS adds accomplished teacher to history department


Wildcat Photo

DHS social studies teacher Cathryn Monroe and her husband, daughter and son pose for a selfie while wearing their masks.

Ella Fixsen, Editor in Chief

Cathryn Monroe, World Geography and Political Participation teacher, is the newest addition to De Soto High School’s social studies department. As she becomes more familiar with the students and staff around her, Monroe is looking forward to using her teaching skills to emphasize the importance of history, government and geography in her new classroom. 

Growing up in a rural area much like De Soto, Monroe is no stranger to the relatively small-school feeling of DHS.

“I’m from a small town called Clearwater, Kansas. It’s 25 miles southwest of Wichita,” Monroe said. “It’s tiny. I graduated with 62 other people.”

Beginning in middle school, Monroe developed a passion for fact-based stories and the past lives of American people. 

“When I was young, you couldn’t tear me away from historical fiction books,” Monroe said. “If we went to my middle school, I could walk you right to the section where every historical fiction book about 1880s to 1920s immigration in the U.S. was, whether it was historical fiction or even nonfiction. I wore those books out.”

Monroe anticipated her role as a teacher while she was only a student herself, mainly because of the comfort she felt from being inside a school building.

“I felt safe at school. School was a refuge from everything that was going on at home, so I remember telling my aunt that I was going to become a teacher,” Monroe said. 

Monroe’s pursuit of a teaching career also advanced from the ideas of her own high school educators. 

 “My junior year, I had an incredible U.S. history teacher.  He was my first huge introduction to how amazing social sciences are. Following him, my senior year government teacher was Mr. Justice, who was just made to teach government, as you can tell by his name,” Monroe said. “Both of those gentlemen really made a huge impression on me.”

Despite the numerous influences in her life that pushed her toward becoming a teacher, Monroe did not begin her college career in the educational field. 

“I went to college and started off as a psychology major, specifically with an idea of working for the FBI. However, I didn’t like my psychology professor, and I realized working for the FBI probably wasn’t for me,” Monroe said. “I called my aunt crying and she reminded me that I wanted to become a teacher.”

Monroe began her extensive education at the University of Kansas, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in secondary education. Soon after, she began her teaching career in Lawrence. 

“I got my first teaching job in Lawrence Public Schools and taught seventh through ninth grade social sciences, and then eventually moved to the high school level where I taught 10th grade world history,” Monroe said. “That was a worthwhile experience. I learned a lot from those years of teaching.” 

After being engulfed in the world of high school education for a few years, Monroe transitioned into a district-based role.

“I ended up working at the district office for the next two years, overseeing the social studies curriculum for the entire Lawrence Public School District’s Pre-K through 12th grades. While it was fun, I decided that the job took me completely away from the kids and wasn’t worth it,” Monroe said. “I think what I enjoy most about planning lessons is the ability to see how the kid’s react, and I didn’t get to do that.”

After deciding that she wanted to be more directly involved with students, Monroe chose to become an instructional coach, where she continued to feel distant from the kids she wished to work with. 

“I was an instructional coach full-time for one year at a middle school, and then decided that, again, being away from students was hard. While I was there, I wasn’t teaching,” Monroe said. 

In an attempt to become more directly engaged with her students, Monroe began to work toward another college degree, while also teaching high schoolers in her own classroom. 

“I closed out my career in Lawrence in the classroom teaching Advanced Placement Human Geography to ninth grade, World Geography to ninth through 12th grade, and then a little bit of Civics every once in a while, as well,” Monroe said. “I ended up getting my educational specialist degree from Fort Hays State University in building and district administration. However, I have not gone on to get my license.”

Having completed many years of schooling, Monroe is a clearly qualified educator with lots of experience. 

“I am 15 hours plus dissertation away from having my doctorate. I’m not sure if that’s something I’m going to pursue having young children. It took me away a lot, so we would really have to talk about that as a family,” Monroe said. 

Along with her career, family is very important to Monroe, as she comes from a large blended family and now has one of her own.

“I am one of 11 kids, with the oldest being 50 and the youngest being 29,” Monroe said. “Currently, I am married and have a daughter who is in sixth grade and a son who is in third grade.” 

Monroe also houses a few furry friends in addition to her loving family of four. 

“We are a rescue family,” Monroe said. “We have two rescue dogs: our old lady, Belle the beagle, and our hyper puppy, Ember Mae, a terroir-Shepard mix.” 

Monroe enjoys many hobbies outside of teaching that keep her entertained on days that she is not in the classroom. 

“I recently have taken up power walking, which sounds so lame, but it’s a lot of fun,” Monroe said. “I’m kind of a podcast junkie, so I think that’s why I really like walking, because that’s the only time I get to listen to my podcasts uninterrupted, other than when cars are honking at me.”

Alongside her favorite form of exercise, Monroe enjoys baking, gardening, and attending various sporting events. One pastime that Monroe is incorporating into her DHS experience is her love for recreational bowling. 

“When I accepted the job [at DHS], there was an assistant bowling coach position open, and I love to recreationally bowl, so I applied for it and got it,” Monroe said. “I used to coach volleyball and track, but I couldn’t do the high school seasons because they were so long, and I really just wanted to get back into coaching.”

Although Monroe has just started teaching at DHS, she has been witnessing the perks of living in the city of De Soto for over a decade. 

“We’ve lived in De Soto for 12 years now. Since I’ve been here, the element of community has been super strong. There’s this shared idea of helping each other out and supporting one another,” Monroe said. “The sense of community has been more prominent than I realized, and if I had known, I would have tried to make this move significantly sooner.”