Cyndi Klatt, who has taught in Cambria schools for 25 years, was honored earlier this year as the Coast Unified School District’s Teacher of the Year.
She teaches math at Santa Lucia Middle School, but in her quarter-century in the district, she’s taught the subject at the high school, at both schools in the same year, and has done home school/home hospital teaching.
Klatt said in a Dec. 27 interview that she has enjoyed all her CUSD teaching assignments, but middle school teaching is something special. In the first place, “classroom management is easier,” she said, and “our principal, Kyle Martin, is one of the most progressive principals we’ve ever had. He’s approachable and a listener. He makes you feel valued as a teacher.”
Martin is full of praise for Klatt as well. For instance, in a celebratory video about the county’s teachers of the year (http://bit.ly/2icaPhe), Martin described Klatt as a “standout teacher,” and said students she taught who have gone on to college, or a career or trade often describe her as their “best teacher ever.”
Others praised Klatt as being a wonderful mentor to other teachers, and said the honor was “well deserved.” Some of her students thanked her, saying “you keep me moving forward,” and that she’s the “best math teacher ever.”
The Sept. 26 honors ceremony and dinner was held at the Culinary Arts Academy, operated as part of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District.
In October 1990, Klatt, husband Rob and their four sons, then ranging from first through eighth grade, moved to Cambria from Temecula. The parents worked for a time in real estate sales for Steve Engel at McLean Realty. Then they branched out into the culinary world, beating the “food truck” trend by a decade with their mobile stir-fry kitchen.
When the opportunity arose for Cyndi Klatt to substitute teach at the high school, she grabbed it. After three months of subbing, she was offered the chance to teach high school math fulltime. She grabbed that, too.
Hundreds and hundreds of students later, she said she’s been “truly blessed” to have been teaching who she was, where she was, when she was.
That includes the evolution of computers and the use of technology as a teaching tool.
“It’s a big part of teaching now,” she said. “It’s technology, technology, technology. It’s the way of the future” especially with opportunities that include such offshoots as robotics.
However, “students have a different culture now,” she said, “and I think they’ll require a lot of stimulation” to learn all they should learn. “I don’t want communication to be lost in all that technology, and I hope the role of the teacher isn’t replaced by online” services.
The world will still require that students be able to communicate one on one, and in large groups, and those skills are difficult to learn online, according to the honoree.
And those ginger-headed imps who moved here with their parents in 1990? She recited the list. “Mike is 38, Luke is 36, Marcus 34 and Stephen is 32” and the father of two darling children, Lexi, 4, and Logan 2 (at least until a birthday in mid-January).
Mike works at Hearst Castle; Luke is a personal trainer in Santa Cruz; Marcus lives in Ventura and does mapping for an environmental firm; and Stephen is a plumber.
Keeping up with that crew is Cyndi Klatt’s primary free-time avocation these days. The former tennis player enjoys taking walks and searching for moonstones, but her favorite hobby is “playing with grandkids.”
After all, who’s better to instill a love of learning in little ones than a Teacher of the Year grandma?