Kaneland High School teacher takes big career jump


Photo By Preslee Sutherland

Kirstin Murphy switched classes and is now the new Foods and Nutrition teacher. She has been teaching at Kaneland for 18 years, but this is her ninth year at the high school.

     A teacher who formerly taught science and was an instructional coach at Kaneland High School decided she wanted back in the classroom and was ready to take on a new challenge: Cooking.

     Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher Kirstin Murphy has been a teacher at Kaneland High School for nine years. She originally taught chemistry, but eventually became an instructional coach. 

     “I decided it was time for me to get back into the classroom because I really missed working with students. And I did learn a lot in my role as an instructional coach,” Murphy said when asked what made her want to switch to teaching Foods and Nutrition. 

     Even though she was a biology major, if Murphy wasn’t a teacher, she would be a chef of some kind. 

     “I love cooking, but I just don’t like the hours. But I love teaching, and I love working with students, so I thought this is a great opportunity to cook and still work with students.”

     At first glance chemistry and Foods and Nutrition don’t seem like they have much in common. Murphy said, “I love them both, but I also want to work on merging the two because foods and cooking are all chemistry, and I’d love to teach students to learn chemistry through cooking.”

     Murphy likes that Foods and Nutrition helps her teach students basic life skills that they might need later on in life. She said, “I want students to be aware if they start dating somebody, or a friend or family member, even, that has certain restrictions on what they can eat, that we can learn some recipes so they can still make yummy tasting food for when those people come over to visit.”

     Chemistry and Foods and Nutrition have many differences. According to Murphy, when teaching Foods and Nutrition, an elective class, the students tend to be more happy and engaged than when in a required chemistry course. There’s a difference in the teaching aspect, as well. “It’s difficult because I didn’t go to school to do this,” Murphy said. “So there’s a lot of learning on my part, too.”

     Even though Murphy is new to the Foods and Nutrition class, students think she’s doing a good job teaching them.

     Senior Lindsey Andrae said, “She’s thorough, and we’ve gotten to know our way around the classroom. Setting up the kitchens was a good way to familiarize ourselves with the class.” 

     It’s still early, and already, Murphy has made an impact on the students. Sophomore Jason Vandeveire thinks positively about her teaching style. 

     “It’s still not that far into the school year, and I’ve never met her before this year, but she seems nice and understanding,” Vandeveire said.

     Murphy is looking at the future of Foods and Nutrition. She is planning on continuing to teach the class in years to come. She has also begun talking with other teachers about what else she can do with the program. 

     “I would like to refine the curriculum and make it my own so students are very excited about this class,” Murphy said. 

     Murphy has many chances to accomplish her goals and take her class to the next level with the rest of the semester ahead of her and teaching Foods and Nutrition 2 next semester.