“Able to adjust to new conditions” is the definition of adaptable, and it is an appropriate adjective for Licking R-VIII School District’s peer and administrator-nominated Spotlight Staff Member of the Month, Mrs. Kaitlyn Baker. An elementary teacher who added volleyball coaching duties, then transitioned to junior high/high school teacher, Mrs. Baker has shown the community she is a versatile professional in her six years with the district.
Mrs. Kaitlyn Baker graduated from LHS rival, Houston High School, in 2011. During her high school years, Mrs. Baker played volleyball and basketball and ran track. “I was involved in everything available,” Mrs. Baker remembered. “NHS, FFA…you name it, I wanted to do it!” Mrs. Baker’s high school athleticism led to a college scholarship to Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO, from which Mrs. Baker graduated in 2015. Shortly after graduation, Mrs. Baker accepted her first teaching position in first grade in Houston, MO.
After an offer from elementary principal, Mr. Bradley Cooper, to join the staff at Licking Elementary, Mrs. Baker moved into her third-grade position. During these five years, Mrs. Baker was known as a reliable, consistent, caring, and energetic teacher. “She was just the candidate we were looking for, and she was very self-motivated,” said Mr. Cooper. During the year she served as assistant volleyball coach with her sister, Ms. Ashley Martin, Mrs. Baker supported the team’s run to state competition. Mrs. Baker was working as a dedicated teacher and coach when she and husband, Matt, welcomed their daughter, Kinlee, to the world.
“I always knew I wanted to help people, and I wanted to make a lasting impact on my community – the world, really,” said Mrs. Baker. “I talked to my college advisor about the best way to do this, and that’s how I settled into teaching,” she remarked. “I have always relied on God for strength through each transition in life and trusting God’s plan has gotten me to this point,” Mrs. Baker added reflecting on the importance of her faith. Mrs. Baker loved working with young children and helping them develop routines and boundaries they would hopefully build upon throughout their school years. “They provide so much unconditional love, and children that age are so genuine,” Mrs. Baker shared. “Seeing their progress and growth – both in academics and their maturity were the most rewarding aspects of teaching in the elementary grades.”
When a high school mathematics teaching position became open, Mrs. Baker decided to try her hand at working with older students. “I was interested in math in college, and it felt like a natural progression,” Mrs. Baker reflected. Mrs. Baker is well-known for her ability to build relationships with all students, and many students seek out Mrs. Baker to have heart-to-heart conversations. “I can’t imagine being in high school right now. I don’t think people outside of the school setting have a clear view of the challenges the world provides these days. Vaping, social media, the way people talk to each other, the threat of school closure, the isolation of virtual learning – it’s a lot – and these things are heavy for young adults today,” Mrs. Baker sympathized.
Licking R-VIII School District isn’t the only place Mrs. Baker teaches and makes a difference. She maintains Level I Cross Fit certification and teaches High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) classes at Studio Bee in Houston. Always passionate about health and fitness herself, Mrs. Baker enjoys the opportunity to help people make progress toward their wellness goals and feeling healthier overall.
Mrs. Baker was certain to include her appreciation for each of her coworkers and the support they provide each day. Mrs. Baker is proud wife of Matt Baker, to whom she has been married since 2017, and proud mother of Kinlee, 18 months. “They’re my world,” Mrs. Baker beamed. With a wide smile, Mrs. Baker also shared the wonderfully important foundation her family provides, including her father and mother, Randy and Rhonda Kell; and her siblings, Nicole Spencer (husband Jerrod) and children Evan,18, Owen,16, Addie, 13, Ary, 5, and foster children; Ryan Kell (wife Nicole) and children Wyatt, 10, Molly, 8, and Quincy, 3; and Ashley Martin and son, Tripp Martin. “I can’t forget my Grandma Freda,” Mrs. Baker added happily.
“Mrs. Baker has done an amazing job staying above the fray as she navigates the junior high/high school classroom. It takes an extraordinary person to move from the elementary setting to this level, and her willingness to do so has been a gift to this district,” said her math department colleague, Mrs. Judy Beckett. The community of Licking agrees, and we are proud to recognize Mrs. Kaitlyn Baker as Spotlight Staff Member of the Month.