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Kansas Wesleyan University

Dr. Climetine Clayburn ’71 returned to the classroom on Thursday to start her celebration of Homecoming and Family Weekend by speaking with Teacher Education students. KWU’s Kansas National Education Association Student Program hosted Dr. Clayburn’s visit.

Dr. Clayburn advised students to be conscientious about the needs of each student and to approach the classroom with optimism. 

“You have to have the mindset that 100 percent of kids that come through the door will be successful,” she said. “Get to know your kids. Carry a passion for what you do, but also an understanding of where they are.”

Dr. Clayburn has more than 40 years of experience in the education field and had worked in both teaching and administrative roles in a variety of communities. She was an associate professor in the Teacher Education program at Emporia State University.

She told KWU students to set high expectations, create a structured learning environment and use relevant consequences for children who break the rules.

“Let kids know what your expectations are, but give them time to learn what your expectations are,” Dr. Clayburn said. She explained that each student, because of their backgrounds, comes to the classroom with a different understanding of how to behave and interact.

Dr. Clayburn talked about the struggle of being the first black teacher at a school and how she turned that into an opportunity and built community and understanding in the classroom. Her career features several similar situations, where she refused to accept that barriers were insurmountable or students were just too bad to teach.

The result is a lineage of successful students who still see her as an inspiration.

To close her comments, Dr. Clayburn led the group in call and response, “We have to teach what?”

“All kids!”

“All kids — no matter their gender, ethnicity, social status, ability, happiness — can count on me,” Dr. Clayburn said.