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Helping build futures at the Brickhouse
by Damian Tromerhauser
Dec 05, 2012 | 2410 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Damian Tromerhauser — At Sparks High, Kathryn Betz teaches senior English 7-8 as well as the AP course, while holding the responsibilities of being the Sparks Scholarship Director.
Tribune photo by Damian Tromerhauser — At Sparks High, Kathryn Betz teaches senior English 7-8 as well as the AP course, while holding the responsibilities of being the Sparks Scholarship Director.
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If you walk through the halls of Sparks High, down C-Hall and up the stairs past a painting of a steaming locomotive and a mural of Albert Einstein, you will eventually come to room C-203. While the appearance of this classroom resembles many others that are strewn along the hallways, it is not simply a room full of desks crammed side-by-side. Instead, the small classroom is a place where future hopes become a possibility.

Room C-203 belongs to Kathryn Betz, better known to her students as Ms. Betz, and is the central location that Betz helps Railroader seniors plan for life after Sparks High.

While teaching senior English 7-8 as well as the AP course, Betz also holds the responsibilities of being the Sparks Scholarship Director. The position is an area that Betz prides herself in.

“I feel like I make a huge difference. That’s why I still do it,’ Betz said. “For me, it’s just giving them a start. That happened to me. I grew up in Sparks and I went to Sparks High, and I wasn’t going to get to go to college. I didn’t have the money and my senior year my father died, and somebody came to me and helped me. I’ll never forget it. All I needed was a little bit of a start. That’s all I needed, and I took the ball and I ran with it. Sometimes that’s all I think these kids need, just a start and a little help.”

Using the little bit of help that she received while she was a student at Sparks, Betz graduated from the University of Nevada and was almost headed to law school before a teaching position opened up. From there, she fell in love with her students, and teaching, and hasn’t looked back over the last 25 years, 21 spent with the Maroon and Gold.

“I’m never bored. I’m usually overwhelmed, but I am never bored and I don’t think anyone can say that over 25 years,” Betz said. “I still have a passion for this job. It feels like I just started. I feel like a real teacher here. It’s about the kids here. They need us here. I’m not just a little person in their life. I’m a big person in their life and I like that. I think we all feel that way as staff members.

“It will be close to 4,000 kids that have walked through my room by the time I’m done. At the end of my life, I can sit here and honestly say I think I’ve made a difference. In somebody’s life somewhere, I’ve had an impact. It just really makes it worthwhile.”

Part of the daily grind that has made it all worthwhile for Betz is the 14 years and counting that she has spent as Scholarship Chair at SHS. When an opening for the director became available, a passion for the spot was all that was needed, and Betz had plenty of it.

“I believe in them and I know they can do it. They need to know the steps how though,” she said. “Some of them don’t know where they are going or what they are doing after school and they don’t get that talk at home. They’re going to get that talk from me. I make sure to help them fill out the scholarship applications, do the essays and correct the essays. I don’t do it for me. I do it because I want them to be recognized by the public as smart, viable, interesting kids. That’s what we have here at Sparks High. It’s all about them and they are under the radar.”

With retirement five years away, Betz said she will most likely leave the job that has become such a large part of her identity. She will still have all of her memories though.

“I’m not going to keep teaching. I want to go out on a positive note. I don’t want to just put in my time in the end. I want to walk away with a positive feeling about it.

“I’m going to miss the kids. I will not miss the grading or the daily grind, but I’m going to miss the kids.”
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