Growing up in rural Oklahoma, Kimberely Durall loved to read and tested as gifted and talented. Still, she hated school.

“I felt my mind worked differently,’” she says. “I worried that I annoyed my teachers by not following directions or doing things incorrectly.”

Then, at Oklahoma State University, Durall lost both her parents and a grandmother. Supported by the university community, Durall realized that she, too, liked helping people.

Kimberely Durall

Kimberely Durall (M.A. ’15) (Photo Courtesy of Kimberly Durall) 

“I majored in education to keep learning while inspiring kids with a background like mine. I didn’t want the limits the world places on students to follow them into my classroom.”

Now in her 13th year as an English teacher at Hendrick Middle School in Plano, Texas, Durall helps young people discover “the power of their voices” through writing and note-taking platforms such as Sketchnoting.

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“To me, visual storytelling is a natural progression from writing. Maxine Greene removed art from a pedestal, which translates into academic equity for every student.”

Once an unhappy student herself, Durall can reach kids who “hate being in my classroom.” Teaching, she says, is about helping them make personal sense of what they are learning. “Because then they understand why learning matters.”