‘A supportive community … and a really nice place to be’

Stewart’s Ms. Appleby cultivates flowers at home and young minds at school


Madison G.

Ms. Appleby brings the world to her AP, leadership and history students.

Madison G, Writer

Kat Appleby, a teacher at our very own Stewart Middle School, has been an inspiration to many.  

But where did she start out? Travel through this interview as we explain the “origin story” of one of the best leaders here at Stewart. 

Did you plan on teaching? 

Teaching was my second career. I went into human resources out of college, and I did that for 20 years before I became a teacher. I decided that I wanted to be a teacher after I had my kids, and I went back and got my teaching certificate. 

Did you know you wanted to teach geography and history classes? 

I majored in history in college. Actually, when I went back to school, I thought I wanted to teach 4th grade. I figured out really fast that I didn’t want to do that.  

What do you do outside of school? 

I’m not the most exciting person. I like to work in my yard and garden, I read, I like to cook and bake. My kids are all grown; just my husband at home with our cat.  

Do you get frustrated when students don’t focus or show interest in the material you’re teaching? 

It used to really bother me, but I understand being an 8th grader and especially with technology and kids are used to things happening so quickly and it’s hard for them to maintain interest in something that isn’t quite so fast-paced. I also know that 8th graders tend to figure it out as they get into high school.  

What were you like in middle school? 

I went to a private K-8th grade Catholic school. We were really into plaid jumpers and saddle shoes, stuff like that. I got in trouble for talking a lot, the nuns did not appreciate that. … But I really liked reading and you know all that kind of stuff. 

What is different from adolescents now than when you were in your youth? 

I think there’s a lot of things that are the same really, I really feel like kids are kids and they’re not too much different. I think there’s things around kids that are different. Social media has really changed kids because the interaction between people in person has really differed. I think kids still like the same things and strive to be the same kind of people. I also wonder if you’re less sheltered in terms of your access to things on social media. I think in terms of your sheltered like you can’t just say “let’s go outside,” like when I was in the 4th grade we would just go and just be gone all day. No one was worried about something bad happening.  

What’s your favorite class to teach?

Right now, it’s probably AP human geography and leadership. In the past I loved teaching U.S. history and I really wish 8th graders had that here. 

What was your favorite school that you have taught at? 

My favorite school would be Stewart because when a lot of us came, we had taught at Giaudrone together and when our principal came here to rebuild when Stewart was kind of in a bad place a lot of us came and we just all felt like the kids were so nice. … We had that experience together. It was such a supportive community and it’s just a really nice place to be. 

Do you have any regrets in your teaching career? 

I’ve always been open to taking a risk and changing and teaching something I’ve never taught before. but I don’t think so. I taught at the original Hunt, it was where I first taught and then when they closed us. I guess my regret is that they closed Hunt because that was a great place.