Q&A With Sheila Killgore
Sheila Killgore teaches 7th and 8th grade science at CAC’s secondary campus. Killgore sat down with the E-Mustang staff to discuss the highlights of teaching, some of her unique classroom activities and why she takes a special interest in middle school students.
What was your first exposure to CAC?
When I was in ninth grade, the CAC choir came to sing at my church one Sunday night. It was this big diverse group of athletes and chorus kids, and they sounded great. I knew I wanted to come to CAC, but they didn’t have girls’ basketball yet, and I knew that was my ticket to college.
How did you eventually come to be at CAC?
I applied in 1984, and over Christmas, Mr. Diles called me and I began teaching on January 4th. That night I had my first ball game as the girls’ basketball coach — I only knew one girl on my team!
What do you enjoy most about teaching 7th and 8th graders?
They’re still excited. I love seeing the awe in their eyes when the light bulb comes on and they realize “Wow – so that’s how that works.” And I like hearing them use their “new language.” I encourage them to use correct science terminology, so it’s rewarding to sit back and watch them working in the lab and using that language.
What’s the most challenge part?
We call it “being down here in the trenches.” These are the years where they’re learning how to be students, how to mature, how to behave and how to pick up responsibilities. But that’s part of training them how to be good high school students.
Your classes are well known for being hands-on and project-oriented — what’s one of your favorite projects?
When my seventh graders are studying tissues, I ask each student to bring in a raw chicken leg to dissect. They pull out all of the tissues they can identify, and they get really excited that they can do that. Of course, they also say they’ll never eat chicken again.
Each year, your eighth graders take a field trip the crystal mines in Hot Springs. Tell us a little bit about that.
We study the rock cycle and gemstones and then we go dig up crystals at the crystal mine. We’ll browse the gift shop and some of the kids will purchase some rocks they’ve learned about. Then they’ll come back and identify the characteristics of their specimens and show them off to their classmates.
Earlier this year a student brought you a tarantula hawk. How did this tradition of students bringing you animals and insects begin?
Not only did I get a tarantula hawk, I got a hickory horned devil caterpillar. It’s ferocious looking, but we figured out it turns into a harmless big orange moth.
During the first two days of school, I’ll let my students ask questions about the collection of things in my classroom. They see and hear about the things other students have brought in, and they want to add to the collection.
From your classroom decorations, one may guess you like to hunt. What are some of your other hobbies?
I used to hunt deer and turkey with my dad. I did like to ride motorcycles (before we sold them), and I’m involved in the ladies ministry and with an outreach mission at my church. Doug and I also like to travel – that’s how he de-stresses.
We’ve heard you’re good at keeping tabs on new students. Why do you take such a special interest in them?
I treat them as if they were my children. They’re in a transition. They have enough stress already; I went them to see Jesus here at school. I want to find out what their gifts are, their interests are, and get them plugged in where they’ll be part of a family.
You and Doug have been a large part of the CAC family for many years. What keeps you here?
This is my calling. I’ve been at a public school before, and there’s the same kind of children at both schools, and they all have different struggles. I just want to be a mentor and sneak in a little science. I love being in this family environment, and I love getting to see my little seventh graders become the seniors leading the devotionals in chapel.