Helping the less fortunate, particularly children, is something teacher Kate Kilian learned from her parents when she was just a child herself.
Now a chemistry teacher at the Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches, Kilian’s burning passion to help others resulted in a list of charity projects too long to list and has inspired a legion of students to volunteer in the community.
Kilian, 30, of Jupiter, has spent the past two summer and winter breaks in Cambodia. At first, she ran community health programs to help primary schools in the war-ravaged country that was once the site of massive genocide.
Then Kilian taught English to 58 students between the ages of four and eight at an impoverished Cambodian school. She has also written an entire curriculum to help one Cambodian school teach children from as young as four up to 19 years old.
Kilian grew up traveling with her parents as they did volunteer medical work around the world, so helping is just second nature for her.
When she is back at Oxbridge teaching chemistry, Kilian said she takes the lessons she learned volunteering in Cambodia and brings it into her classroom. “I don’t accept late work because my students in Cambodia never miss an assignment,” she said.
Kilian spends every weekend and much of her free time volunteering to help children in Palm Beach County and tries to get Oxbridge students involved as much as possible.
Once a month, she takes students to the Quantum House, a nonprofit home where parents stay while their children are undergoing serious medical procedures in Palm Beach County. Kilian and her students make dinners and even birthday cakes for the families at Quantum.
She and some of her students, like junior Brianna McGovern, work with a tutoring program for homeless children at the Lord’s Place, a West Palm Beach charity that tackles homelessness and child poverty issues.
Kilian also works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County coaching third and fifth graders to compete in the Science Olympiad, a series of labs and scientific competitions that will take place in February.
Kilian runs a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Night at Oxbridge where about 40 of her students hold a fair for about 100 underprivileged and homeless elementary school students from around the county to teach them the fun of learning science.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, she is helping the Salvation Army collect toys for Christmas, organizing an outreach program that will have her students playing bingo with senior citizens and planning a Christmas party to benefit the Lord’s Place.
“Oxbridge really encourages me and makes it all possible by giving me the time off and the support I need to make all these programs possible,” she said.
It’s no surprise that Kilian was named one of the 2014 High School Teachers of the Year by the Northern Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce.
Learn more about the Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches at www.oapb.org.
ABOVE: Teacher Katie Kilian With A Student.