Tuscaloosa Educator Selected for Renowned National PBS Educational Program
A teacher-librarian in the Tuscaloosa City Schools earned her second international honor this week when she was selected to participate in a national PBS education program Monday.
Katherine "Kat" Baxter has spent 18 years of her 19-year education career with the Tuscaloosa City Schools, teaching at Central Elementary, the now-closed Northington Elementary, Westlawn Middle and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, where she currently serves.
Baxter has been tapped to participate in the PBS Digital Innovator All-Star Program, which is a two-year program where educators from around the country "share strategies, learn from peers and leverage PBS platforms to elevate their own ideas and voice."
In this program, Baxter will work closely with Alabama Public Television to build lessons and guides on the PBS website for students and teachers throughout the state.
Baxter was previously selected to join the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program in 2020.
According to the organization's website, the program "is a yearlong professional learning opportunity and short-term exchange for elementary, middle, and high school educators from the United States to develop skills to prepare students for a competitive global economy," allowing participants the opportunity to bring international perspectives to their schools through various opportunities, including opportunities abroad.
Baxter left Alabama Wednesday to travel to Germany where she will complete the field experience portion of the program. The trip was postponed to this year due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
While in Europe, Baxter will learn the German educational system and lead lessons on technology innovation and American culture in a German classroom. She said she looks forward to seeing the difference between American and German education systems.
"I want to see what items I can bring back to my library classroom," Baxter said.
Baxter said she never thought she would be accepted into these nationally and internationally-renown programs.
"I applied to these programs not expecting to be chosen but I'm so glad I did," Baxter said. "I'm grateful for the people who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself and told me to apply. My mentors constantly poured into me and told me I can do anything."
Baxter said she feels that representing African American librarians in this program "absolutely matters."
"I'm in a field where only 7% of librarians are Black. To be able to participate in programs that are on both a national and international stage means the world. It shows other people that it is possible."
Baxter said she is excited to represent her hometown of Tuscaloosa and hopes her experiences will continue her efforts of making a positive impact on students in Tuscaloosa and beyond.
"It's so important because I'm from the small town of Tuscaloosa and I'm showing my students that no matter where they are from, the world can see their greatness and that they can make an impact on the world, not just our small city," Baxter said.