This year Winters elementary music teacher Fran Kidwell will mark her 50th anniversary as a teacher and her twentieth year as a teacher in Winters. Originally from Dickinson, Texas, she found her way west with her husband, retired Winters principal and former president of the Winters ISD board of trustees, Charles Kidwell, “I taught for five years and then I stopped for 5 years to be a homemaker and then I started teaching again. This is my 50th year teaching.”
Kidwell is a kind, polite, unassuming woman who wants every student she’s taught and will teach to remember one thing, “Be kind. Being kind is easy, just be kind to people.” Even if you consider a modest number of 30 students per year, after 50 years that brings the minimum number of students she’s taught to 1,500. If every one of those 1,500 students took to heart her words and teaching to be kind, that’s a lot of people to carry that worthy torch. If they pass it on to their own children an others then the teachings of Kidwell will carry forth for many generations.
Kidwell’s genteel manner and modesty during such a great career reflect the Golden Age of teaching, just icons of the bygone era reflect the grand movies and the books by writers such as Hemingway, Asmiov, Vonnegut and Bradbury graced bookshelves.
Kidwell strikes you as that teacher who is, “the one.” Many of the most successful people whether in business, science, sports or acting always cite “that one teacher” that had a positive impact on their lives and helped shaped them into successful people. Kidwell has an easy manner about her that children naturally take to.
Over half of her 50 years in teaching have been at Winters elementary. The current principal, Kari Calcote speaks very highly of Kidwell, “Mrs. K. was a teacher here since I was in first grade. I’ve known her most of my life and the students respect and love her. She’s a truly remarkable person.”
Kidwell is humble when we talk of her accomplishments but it’s the ones who get to meet her and share her time who are truly humbled. Kidwell, while not speaking to the praise she receives from others, shares praise of those who had an impact on her life. Her faith has always played a large role in her life, “Jesus Christ was the master teacher. He is the one to follow and learn from.”
When asked what she wanted people to know about her and her career, she said, “The teaching profession was definitely the right choice for me. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to teach in both super 5A and smaller districts. Kids have primarily the same needs in both. It’s been amazing to see the blessings that have come out of both. In the large district I was taken under the wing of a master teacher to learn my craft. In this district I’ve watched Bruce Davis greet school buses every morning. Consequently all of the children know who he is and that he cares. To me that’s true leadership to me at its finest.”
Kidwell is a teacher of the highest caliber, one who teaches, leads and truly cares about her students and other educators. Teaching isn’t only what she does; it’s who she is, for 5 decades and counting.