Trusted Advisor, Proven Results
Named One of the Top Online Career Coaches in 2016 by
Elizabeth has been a preschool teacher. When she came to me, she had been looking for a career change for some time. When she found me, she had talked to another career coach. They had told her that there was nothing they could do for a “preschool teacher.” Feeling deflated, she was happy to learn that I provide career services for teachers. One of Elizabeth’s self-identified “challenges” is that she is creative and artistic. She recalled that she might have liked to go into interior design when she was young. But she was afraid of the math she would have to do, and she is math-averse (like a lot of creative people claim to be). In spite of not loving math, Elizabeth offered that she loved color and fabrics and texture. She felt she was good at creating attractive spaces. She also had a penchant for organizing. When I learned of that interest, I introduced her to a coaching colleague of mine. That colleague built her whole business around organizing things and spaces for people.
This belief often holds a lot of people back from making the change they want. Since I made my career transition at the age of 60, I don’t let people use age as an excuse. You can start over and do what you want at any age. So, we set about together to identify what she would like to do in her next career. She wanted to be able to make good use of her creative talents. And she wanted to use her experience with pre-school children. Combine the two, and what you have is a potential service to offer. She can create interesting and innovative learning spaces in homes and offices. These spaces cater to young children, birth through age 7. She provides advice on books and activities that are best for preschool children.
“Kitty has a very positive, spiritual, and philosophical approach that is grounded in reality. This combination of attributes conveys trustworthiness that served as a source of inspiration for me. She transferred a sense of confidence in my ideas and my abilities to me.” The truth is that making a significant change in your career feels daunting no matter what your age. Besides that, teachers feel particularly challenged when trying to figure out what they want to do next. The dilemma may be that you don’t know how to identify your transferable skills. As a result, teachers don't know how to market yourself for your next career.
Do you need help getting your career search jump started? If you have questions about my program, please reach out to me. If you would like me to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consultation, use the link below to do that. Not sure if it is possible for you to find what you can be passionate about in your next career? Check out this post on how to find your passion and purpose. Want to talk about what might be possible for you? Click below to make an appointment for a 20-minute complimentary Discovery Session.
For more recommendations of the work I have done with clients, keep reading more case studies or take a look at some of the testimonials that I have collected over time. I would love to help you if I can. Until next time.
Meet Michelle. She is a former Spanish teacher and Yearbook Advisor. She came to me knowing that she didn’t want to continue teaching anymore. But she didn’t know what she wanted to do instead. This case study showcases the work that Michelle, and I started several months ago. That work has led her to a new career path that excites her.
When she first came to me, Michelle had come to realize that she had reached a dead end in her profession. She had been teaching for 15 years. She was feeling stressed out and unhappy. And she had concluded that she would never make it to retirement as a teacher.
Watch the video and hear in her own words how working with me helped her gain clarity. Our work together also helped her develop the courage she needed to resign from her teaching job. She won’t be returning to school this year.
Michelle started out taking it slow. She purchased my Starter Program so she could first get some sense of direction. It was while she worked her way through that program that some things began to bubble up. She realized what she was interested in looking into.
She went on to make other appointments for informational interviews, and she just kept going.
Michelle hasn’t found a job that is paying her yet, but she is gaining valuable experience working as an intern at the historical society and serving as the historian for a group she has volunteered for. She also got an unexpected gig cataloging and marketing artwork that belongs to a friend. This opportunity allows her to use her college major which is Art History.
She has also realized that her family is her number one priority. For that reason, we decided on a unique LinkedIn headline. We chose the keywords: “Wife and Mom | Art Historian | Historical Researcher.” This list offers in order what Michelle cares about most. She never wants to lose sight of the importance of her family. While she was working and stressing over the yearbook last year, she realized she wasn’t able to give her family the attention she wanted to provide.
This case study highlights Mary Jo who is a friend of mine with whom I have kept in touch through the magic of Facebook. She knew me from a whole other life when I was married and she and my husband at that time were both in seminary together. Mary Jo finished her work at the seminary and moved “home” with her young son where she worked part-time for a church and also taught for the nearby public school district. About a year ago, she popped up in my Facebook Messenger feed expressing an interest in my career transition services. She was in need of a change, and she needed help making the change she wanted. You can listen to her talk about the challenges she was facing at the time and the kind of help she felt she needed.
She enjoyed the bi-monthly group coaching sessions that we conducted by Zoom, and she got value from the content that was presented which included things like how to set up LinkedIn, how to re-brand yourself, and other aspects of the job search process. The reference she made to the newsletter that she receives as a subscriber and the particular title she mentioned was entitled My $66 Milkshake. Mary Jo went from feeling frustrated with her search to eventually being confronted with several offers at once. She selected the proposal that made the most sense for her to take, and as a result, she has moved part of the way across the country to take over a church in Nebraska. What struck me during our conversation together is how “light” Mary Jo has become since we last talked. I can see a change in her whole demeanor. She laughed a lot during this conversation, and she seems to be genuinely happy with her recent move and her new life as a full-time minister to her congregation. In our conversation together in the video clip above, she offered why she had found working with me during her transition to being particularly helpful to her and why she recommends working with me to others. If you are experiencing a career transition or find yourself at a career crossroads or in the midst of a career crisis, let’s talk.
Amie is one of my most recent clients who participated in the “Jumpstart Your Job Search” Group Coaching Program. A teacher with 18 years of experience, Amie came to the group with a sense that she was ready for a challenge that would take her beyond the classroom. Her biggest problem was she didn’t know where to begin. She also struggled with feelings of guilt about wanting to leave the classroom. In spite of that guilty feeling, she had taken this last year off to explore options, but she was coming up short until she ran across the Black Friday special I was offering right after Thanksgiving and before Christmas of 2017. She signed up for the program, and her 16-week cohort has just completed their work. Amie has opted to continue to stay in the month-to-month membership program for now as she begins her new adventure.
Amie’s dilemma was typical of many of the teachers who come to me for help. She felt she was ready for a new challenge but didn’t know where to look for it or what to do if she found it. There are many different moving parts to any job search, and it can be especially difficult when you want to make a change in a direction altogether. In Amie’s case, she recognizes that she is a great teacher and a part of her still wants to be involved in education. But she has outgrown any interest in managing a typical classroom. She feels she has more to offer than that. She also had the problem of not having the right people to advise her. Her friends meant well, but they weren’t really familiar with how to change direction professionally, and she finally felt she needed someone neutral. That is what she found in me. She also discovered in our first group call that she wasn’t alone in feeling her frustration. Two of the other members of the group had international teaching experience like she did. Even though members of the cohort were spread out all over the country and included one from Berlin, Germany, they all had one thing in common. They wanted to make a change in their professional lives.
She felt a “huge sense of relief” because now she had someone she could talk to and work through some of her questions, hesitations, fears, and worries. She also appreciated that I was able to offer resources for her to use whenever she felt like she had hit a particular roadblock. As she said, “Kitty recommended lots of different books to read…and also just that group session that we'd meet [bi-monthly] and just listening to others talk about the same frustrations that I had where I did not feel alone and my frustrations at my career. Kitty always had her PowerPoint presentation and goes through and answers any questions and it was just nice to hear that I'm not alone. So those are some great aha moments for me.” Amie has decided that for now, she is going to pursue a Master’s degree in Technology. She feels that this is a huge step for her, and she is very excited about it. She will begin her first classes this spring.
And she took advantage of every opportunity offered to her to help with reviewing her resumes as she wrote them, cover letters and essays for different job applications. I also helped her with her LinkedIn profile so that it would be ready for “prime time.” When asked if Amie would recommend me to her friends, she said, “Absolutely! I actually already have sent out your link to some people are in the education field, and they are feeling frustrated, and I said you got to talk to this lady or just check out her website out if you don't want to sign up right away just see what it’s about. I have been looking for someone like you for probably the last year or two.” In her final comments, Amie said, “I just say don't be afraid just go for it you know and that was my thing. Like alright, if I don't want to leave teaching, I'm still going to gain all this knowledge from Kitty. And it's such a great program. She gives you so many things from so many different angles.”
If you can relate to how Amie felt before she started working with me, I would invite you to set up a 20-minute, no-obligation, complimentary session so that we can talk about your situation. I would love to help. If I can’t, I will tell you so, and I will offer other suggestions for you to pursue. Either way, you have nothing to lose, and you may have a whole new career path to gain. Can you relate to Amie's feelings? Do you think you would like to explore other possibilities in your career?
This case study is about Angie, a music teacher who was experiencing a severe case of teacher burnout when she found me. Angie came to me for help with her job search early in 2017. She was on a sabbatical from her job as an elementary school band teacher when she found me and reached out for assistance with her job search. In spite of her passion for music, Angie had gotten burned out with her job as an elementary band teacher. She was feeling the physical symptoms, and when she contacted me, she was already dreading the thought of returning to her school in the fall. She had hopes of finding a position as an arts administrator in a non-profit, but as time went by, she had little luck finding those types of positions and landing them even if she got as far as an interview.
After our initial complimentary strategy session, she decided to try the Starter Program which was intended to help her gain some clarity around what she wanted—and needed—next in her career. A few months after completing the Starter Program, she asked about what her next steps might be. She decided to upgrade to the Group Coaching Program which gave her access to the rest of the program I offer. That program included the following: (1) instruction on how to write a resume directed toward the next job you want; (2) help with an optimized LinkedIn profile; (3) learning how to write a compelling cover letter; (4) auditing social media profiles, and (5) preparing for an interview among other things.
It was eye-opening to learn that she wasn’t the only teacher feeling the way she felt. In fact, in her particular cohort, she was one of three music teachers going through the program! Listen to Angie’s story in her own words as she explains how stressed out and unhappy she was when she first came to me and how happy she is now in her new position as a high school band director.
Do you relate to Angie's feelings? Do you think you would like to explore other possibilities in your career?
Cyndee Kawalek first reached out to me when she was teaching in Illinois almost two years ago. She was fast approaching burn-out. She was suffering from recent knee surgery, and she has Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was in pain a lot which wasn’t good given that she was a Physical Education Instructor. On top of her job burnout, she was also experiencing a nasty divorce. In other words, she was experiencing a lot of stress in her life.
Cyndee was proud of the fact that she had created from scratch the Adventure Education Program in her school. It was the most popular class in her building. During her last year, she had over 700 students apply for the 320 slots that were available. A former social worker, she is a caring and empathetic teacher—the kind any district should hate to lose. But, unfortunately, modern school systems no longer support teachers like Cyndee the way they should.
Stressed out and disillusioned because her school division had adopted an arbitrary evaluation system that knocked her down to a rating of “Adequate” after 19 years of being deemed an “Excellent” teacher, Cyndee wasn’t sure she could make it to “full” retirement.
She was also not sure that there was anything else “out there” for her, though. What other options do teachers have, anyway? That was the question that had her stumped.
In our initial work together, we talked a lot about that. In my opinion, there are many options for teachers. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. But first, you have to break free of the fear and be willing to explore the opportunities with an open mind.
Here we are, about two years later, and Cyndee has taken an early retirement option from her school district. She moved to California to be near her now husband. And she is also close to her two daughters who are going to school in California.
On top of all those positive changes in her life, she has undertaken a new “adventure.” She is going to be helping teachers learn how to engage their students more proactively. She has received training ed through the Center for Teacher Effectiveness., and she is setting up an independent consulting firm. She is excited again about her work, and she looks forward to making a positive difference in the lives of the teachers and educators that she trains. See for yourself what Cyndee has to say about her experience of working with me.
When I asked Cyndee specific questions about how she benefitted from working with me, here is what she said:
1. What particular challenge were you dealing with that led you to enroll with me to help with your job search?
I was feeling a great deal of stress in my position as a high school educator. Evaluations, assessments, PLC’s, etc. On top of the everyday job of teaching, there were so many elements to attend to with very little time. I was also three years from retirement and thought I should start checking into what my options were.
2. What was an answer, instruction, or inspiration you discovered that started to turn things around for you?
Meeting you, who had so much in common with me, inspired me as well. You had retired from teaching due to burnout and turned your life around working for yourself. You found your true self in the process, and you inspired me. You let me know that I could do it no matter what. You were honest and let me know that there would be struggles and at the same time much success. You understood what I was going through and gave me the reassurance that I could get out and start to live again. You heard me and understood that I was burning out and you gave me the confidence that I did not have to continue until I dropped. When everyone around me, family, friends, and colleagues thought I was crazy to leave a job with such security and a pension, you gave me permission to seek out other ways.
Being an Adventure Education Instructor is all about teaching students about possibilities and getting out of their comfort zone. Although, my job was stressful it was comfortable. I knew where I was going every day and what to expect. However, I did not have a life outside of school, and I was not happy. I had recently made the biggest decision in my life to divorce my husband of 22 years and go it alone with one kid in college and one who would be in two years. I felt so much relief despite some financial stress. I was finding “ME” again and took a look at my professional life and knew I had to change how I was living. If I could face a divorce with lots of uncertainty that I could surely get out of my comfort zone professionally and take my life back.
I had faith that I could do this as I had changed my career at 32 years of age to become a high school physical education teacher. I spent over three years in school after having a Masters Degree in Social Work. I had to keep up with 18 years olds, especially, physically. I did it with honors and became the PE STUDENT OF THE YEAR IN ILLINOIS!
I was hired immediately with other job offers on the table.
If I could do that I could make that change again, even though I did have to work about age discrimination.
3. What have been your specific results so far? (i.e., How is your job search/career transition different now because of what you learned and implemented?)
After working with you for approx. A year and a half, my search has changed several times from looking to work in the private world in the health and wellness career to leaping into starting and Educational Training and Consulting business. I knew deep down that I could no longer work for anyone else after the discrimination and bullying I had encountered in education. I found a training from the Center for Teacher Effectiveness in Student Engagement and Motivation in which I could become an independent trainer with extensive support from CTE. Before I made the decision, I contacted you with the details, and you encouraged me to go. It was such a wonderful training that I turned around and two weeks later went to the Classroom Management Training. I found the training on LinkedIn which was the site you worked with me on extensively.
4. What were other benefits you experienced from your work with me? (e.g., financial, emotional, physical, or spiritual?)
You were the only support that I had when I began this journey. Everyone I talked to thought I was insane for wanting to get out. You listened to me and could emphasize with my woes and struggles because you had been there. Just the fact that you got out and had built a successful business gave me hope. And you believed in me! You warmed my heart and touched my spirit. We shared many spiritual beliefs as well.
You taught me the basics, from writing a resume to how to build a LinkedIn profile. You gave me websites, leaders in the job search field, LinkedIn specialists and branding experts. You never hesitated to share any and all of the knowledge you could. You inspired me, and I consider you my mentor.
5. Would you recommend me as a coach to business friends & colleagues? If so, why?
Consider it done. I have recommended your services to those who are struggling in education or need a career coach. Why? You start with where the person is and take them from there. You hear them with (as we say in social work) the third ear and third eye. You give of yourself and of your knowledge from the heart. You truly care about us and our futures.
6. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for always being there for me. I consider you a friend and mentor. I am so grateful to have been guided to you. I don’t know how it happened as there are many job coaches on LinkedIn. I believe that it was through divine intervention that I was drawn to you.
Brooke was one of my early clients. I met her when I attended the 2014 Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL). I was a presenter, and I was offering a workshop on work-life balance. (I also offer a workshop on stress management for teachers and busy professionals.) When Brooke learned of the topic of my presentation, she was eager to hear what I had to offer.
She didn’t share all of the specifics of the stress she felt at the time until she contacted me later. A few months after that workshop, she reached out to inquire about the work I did in career coaching and counseling burnt-out teachers. She was ready to make a change. Without going into a lot of detail here, suffice it to say that she was experiencing a stressful situation in her assignment as a high school librarian at the time. As a result, she was considering that she might need to make a change in her job situation.
I admit that I was both surprised and touched that not only has Brooke taken the lessons on job search to heart, but she has also taken to heart my message about the importance of taking better care of herself and managing her stress more effectively. I was not aware until this interview that she had taken some of my teachings and incorporated it into her teaching practice. (How awesome is that?) It was certainly heartening to hear that she is sharing with others what I shared with her about mindfulness. She is also sharing what she learned about the need to manage stress with her students and faculty through her Mindful Mondays.
As you can probably tell, Brooke was lucky enough to be able to find a position doing what she already loved as a librarian. She was able to transfer to a healthier school climate where she is appreciated for her background and her efforts in a way that she wasn’t in her previous assignment. Not every teacher is so lucky. And frankly, not every teacher that I work with would be satisfied to stay in the profession. By the time they reach me, they are ready to move on and try something different.
What I try to do is to learn what it is that makes my client special and unique. What special talents, skills, experiences or education do they have that would allow them to work in a different field. I want them to find where they can be happy and feel fulfilled and appreciated for their efforts.
There is no one size fits all, cookie cutter solution for any teacher looking to leave the classroom. What works for one individual won’t work at all for another. I realize that my clients are just like my students were. They are unique and individual, and they each have a special mission or purpose for being here. I feel like it is part of my job to help them decipher what that purpose or mission is and then help them find the best way for them to express it.
Brooke was able to find the solution that worked for her. Had she not taken the action she did three years ago, however, chances are she would still be stuck in the situation that was going to make her sick from the stress. She had to decide on her own that enough was enough. She was also smart enough to know that she needed help in directing her job search. She needed to learn the tools and techniques for a successful job search. She is much happier today than she was when I first met her. She is a perfect example of the kind of transformation that I want for all of my clients. Way to go, Brooke!
When Nicky first approached me, she was ready to make a change in her career. She wasn’t sure what that change should be, however. She had gone back to school after a few years of teaching in high school, and she had earned a Ph.D. in chemistry. Upon graduation, she went back to teaching high school because it felt like something she knew, and it was “safe.”
After just a few months, she knew she wasn’t going to be happy in the K-12 world long-term. She had no clue how to where to start a job search, however. Luckily, her friend, Brooke, was able to tell her about me. I had already been working with Brooke (see her case study above). She referred Nicky to me to get help.
As Nicky points out in the video, having a coach helped her become more positive in her outlook. When we began our work together, she was feeling pretty down on herself. She lacked the personal and professional confidence that she needed to stretch herself and examine all of the various possibilities that were available to her.
In the end, Nicky left the K-12 work and entered the world of higher education. She is now doing the exact type of work that she said she wanted to be doing when we began our work together.
Nicky also learned about the roller coaster effect of job search. There were some peaks and valleys along the way in her individual job search journey. Job search is fraught with complications, and most of them are outside your control. You can go from the elation of feeling you have found the job of dreams to the deflation of learning you came in “second,” and someone else got the job. A competent and experienced career coach can help you manage your expectations during the process.
Nicky’s was not an overnight success story. We started working together in October of 2014, and she didn’t land her new job until the summer of 2016. In the meantime, she turned down at least one concrete offer and took herself out of the running for another opportunity that just didn’t feel like the right “fit.” That takes courage. It also takes confidence and the belief that something better will come along.
Nicky is an example of someone who learned to practice what I refer to as the “3 Ps” of a successful job search. She practiced patience and persistence, and she didn’t allow herself to panic…even when she might have wanted to. She decided to take action and change the trajectory of her career. She is now working on a college campus and teaching students who are training to become teachers on how to teach chemistry the right way. This has been a passion of hers for as long as I have known her.
To get to where she is now, she had to step out of her comfort zone, and she had to take action. She has grown in her confidence in herself, and she continues to work on stretching herself. Congratulations to Nicky on having the patience and persistence to make the change in her life that she wanted. Way to go!
Not everyone feels comfortable being in front of a camera, so for this case study, Richard has offered written answers to questions that I asked him about the work we did together as we considered the possibility of a new career path. He was experiencing symptoms of teacher burnout when he reached out to me a few months ago. Find answers to questions I asked him as we approached the end of our work together about the benefit of the work we did. He hasn’t yet made his transition out of teaching, but he is moving in the right direction.
(Richard) I have been a teacher for decades, and I was discovering that it was getting harder and harder to get my work done. I never believed in burnout, but in talking with Kitty and some others, I started to believe that burnout might, in fact, have been the problem. A very long commute and having two small children drained all the enthusiasm and efficiency that I long had for my work. I simply started noticed that I was constantly fatigued and irritable. Furthermore, the school I worked at decided to grow class sizes and increase workload, despite many teachers there already putting in a good 60 hours a week. This kind of life for me started to become unsustainable. I found it hard to be an energetic teacher going at a full sprint for ten months a year. I’ve heard that many people switch careers several times in their lifetimes, but I never thought I would be one of them. So, I contacted Kitty, who specialized in working with teachers, to see what my options were.
Furthermore, the school I worked at decided to grow class sizes and increase workload, despite many teachers there already putting in a good 60 hours a week. This kind of life for me started to become unsustainable. I found it hard to be an energetic teacher going at a full sprint for ten months a year. I’ve heard that many people switch careers several times in their lifetimes, but I never thought I would be one of them. So, I contacted Kitty, who specialized in working with teachers, to see what my options were.
(Richard) I spent most of my time working with Kitty on what might be realistic options for a new career. I started out by taking an inventory of myself including my interests, skills, passions, wishes. Kitty’s course has several lengthy questionnaires, which took some time answering but were well worth the effort. Some of what Kitty noticed I already knew about myself.
My fascination with “big picture questions,” for example. Learning that she saw the same things in myself was encouraging for me. It gave me the confidence I needed to look into certain types of fields and not others. Indeed, Kitty provided a wealth of books and internet resources to help my self-exploration. It helped me really start to look hard at what I loved about teaching (and would want to keep in a future career) as well as what I disliked about the profession (and would want to avoid in a new career).
The most exciting thing that I discovered was my interest in questions of meaning and purpose. This led us to discuss the possibility of entering a ministry or chaplaincy. I had long considered this possibility, but what I think I needed to hear was someone else tell me that this really could be something that I did with my life. It wasn’t a “pipe-dream” or a pure fantasy. This led me to look into theology programs, including secular and Buddhist mindfulness training programs. The idea that there were other things I could do made my current job a little easier for me too. I felt far less trapped. I think Kitty’s encouragement was invaluable for me to consider that I was freer and more in control of what I did with my life than I was feeling after teaching for so long.
(Richard) I am presently still teaching, but what has been exciting for me is that, once I started to consider a more religious profession, more doors for such a career started to open up for me. I am currently apprenticing with a mindfulness teacher, and I will begin a year-long training and certification program in June to become a mindfulness teacher for adolescents and children. I feel particularly called to this task since I have found that the stresses I experience in my job are equally shared by my students and their parents. I would like to help them all cope better with the pressures that are imposed on us. I don’t know yet what this means for earning a living, but I am excited by the prospect.
(Richard) I think what I most valued from our conversation was Kitty’s encouragement and positive attitude about making changes in my life. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it helps to hear someone give you “permission” to move on, to try something new, to follow your passion or your dream. I think I was waiting for an invitation to make a change and that doing so was what was needed in my life. Such a change, though, is scary, as one is making a leap or taking a risk.
There is no guarantee my plans will ultimately work out, but I was encouraged by all the examples that Kitty shared with me of people who did take the leap and did land safely on the other side. Kitty often said to me that if we can be clear in what we want, the universe will open up opportunities for us. I think this is true insofar as, by committing to investigate a new path for myself, I became aware of a lot of opportunities that were right there in front of me but that I wouldn’t I have noticed had Kitty not encouraged me to look for them. I am grateful for her guidance and encouragement throughout our time working together.
(Richard) Yes, I would recommend Kitty as a coach, especially to those who feel burnt out and stuck in teaching. Teaching is a harder job than I think many realize, especially if one is a committed teacher. Kitty worked for years in education, and she understands what burnout looks like and how to move past it. I found her to possess a wealth of resources – from books to internet sites and businesses to innovators and entrepreneurs in a variety of fields. I would often take note of all these resources to track them down once our conversations were over, and I always found them helpful for giving me new ideas on how to look at my situation and how to build a new career for myself. I also found Kitty to be extremely encouraging and positive about making good changes in our lives. I found our time working together invaluable, and I would recommend her with great enthusiasm.