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Dear Reader,

This is a cursory exploration of change as it has shaped me, and the form of my life.
Changes in location, changes in relationships, changes in my body, changes in jobs – and
now a change in careers. Much has been omitted as I struggled to narrow the topic so
that I could achieve a coherent piece that reflected my intent. I also struggled with how
much I wanted to reveal of myself. That is part of the lesson I am learning from writing
this paper – this process is far more introspective and important for learning than I
thought. As I learn how to do this – this “writing stuff” - I will also learn ways to engage
my students, so that hopefully they can experience something similar.

Within a one-month period, I turned 50, lost my job, and registered for classes to obtain a
Secondary Education Teaching Certificate. While my primary position will be as a high
school Chemistry teacher, my primary goal will be to help young adults find their way in
life – or at least, give them some skills to do so. I hope that my trials, errors, experiences
and convoluted path will all be of use to my students – if only as an excellent “bad


Kate Dutrow

Life is Good

One Way to Reinvent Yourself

On the Road Again….

I’m on a Mission

The Powerhouse Stretch

Proof I Could Pass the Endurance Test

What Parents Don’t Say

Coach, Counselor and Team Member

Now I Remember What 7th Graders Are Like

The Depths of the Night

A Conversation Between Bobbi and Me

My Resumé – Official and Reality

Life is good

It is three hours after my boss has walked me out the door of my (well, it used to be
mine) manufacturing plant. After a long, nerve-wracking year, he has finally succeeded
in ushering me out the door. Since I was driving the company car, I lost my ride – and
my friend, the plant Accountant had to drive me home. She cried more than I did. She
has gone back to the facility, where my now ex-boss is preparing to communicate my
exodus in some tactfully-spun fashion to the rest of the plant.

It is a magnificent, late September Kalamazoo afternoon. The sky is a crystal clear blue,
a slight breeze is blowing, the leaves of the oaks and maples are brilliant against the sky.
I’m on my road bike, pedaling with an intensity that is curious, given that I should be
wiped out. There is a breeze, but my speed is converting it into a headwind. It feels
warm and silky on this hot afternoon. I am comfortable, and my thoughts are racing back
and forth, over and over and over the events of the last few hours.

Finally tiring, I am heading east on R Avenue. I’ve done the hills, and my quads are
telling me that I have been biking on adrenaline, not physical energy. Before I reach the
Concord grape vineyards, I catch their scent. In the summer heat, the ripening grapes
thicken the air with their sweetness. Because I’m breathing hard, I can even smell the
overripe, alcoholic ones. I’m at the top of the hill, and the scene rolls out in front of me.
Mounded, dark green vines. Pendulous black grapes. Intensely blue sky. Red, gold and
bronze trees outlining the horizon. I stop the bike. I dismount, kneel, and thank a God I
thought I despised for giving me this moment, liberation, peace.

1. Baltimore, MD – birth. August 28, 1958 to July 1959

2. Indianapolis, IN – July 1959 to April 1962 (two houses)
3. Lakewood, OH – April 1962 to July 1963
4. Indianapolis, IN – July 1963 to November 1963
5. Springfield, PA – kindergarten.
November 1963 to June 1967
6. Allison Park, PA – June 1967 to March 1969

On the road again……

“So, whaddya think?” That’s Stephen, my little brother. He’ll put words to anything.
“Whaddo I think what?” That’s Michael, my big brother. He tries not to speak to us at
all. He’s older than me by three years, older than Stephen by four.
“Do you think we’re moving again?”
“Do you think we’re moving again?”
“I think we are.” That’s me. We’re whispering down in the basement where the
babysitter for the weekend can’t hear us.
“The last time they left us for a weekend they came back and said we were moving here.”
“I hope not.”
“Where do you think we’ll be going?” Stephen.
“Shut up, stupid! We’re not going anywhere!” Michael.
“I wonder what color my room will be?” Me.

7. Worthington, OH - March 1969 to December 7, 1971

I’m on a mission…..

The pre-adolescent girl is walking up Poe Avenue, going from one house to the next. She
approaches the door with some trepidation, and presses the doorbell. A woman comes to
the door, and asks what she wants. “Can you tell me if there are any girls my age living
around here?” she asks. “We just moved in, and we probably won’t be here long, so I
don’t have a lot of time. I’m trying to find a friend fast.”
8. Downers Grove, IL - December 7, 1971 to August 28, 1976
9. Cambridge, MA – college. August 28, 1976 to June 15, 1979

The Powerhouse Stretch

Suddenly the boat gets quiet

we hear only eight oars
grabbing the water together
finishing as one

Some energy flow grips us

like a river current
synchronizing our motion

We row as one body

Thinking disappears
leaving behind
only presence
and rhythm


presence and rhythm are rowing this boat

using us for oars 2
10. Beaver Falls, NY – summer job.
June 15, 1979 to September 10, 1979
11. Boston, MA – college.
September 10, 1979 to July 15, 1980

Proof that I could pass the endurance test

12. Lowville, NY – marriage, death of my father.
July 15, 1980 to July 15, 1990

What Parents Don’t Say

Dear Kathrene,

I hope you accept what I’m trying to say in this letter as I intend it. When your father and
I sent you to MIT, our desire was that you took your education and used it for something
better than what you’ve chosen. Living in a small camp, without electricity or running
water, and homesteading is NOT what we had in mind. We do NOT approve of your
choice of husband – he’s very nice, and personable, but he only has a high school
education. And upstate New York is NOT a hotbed of educated people, with a wealth of
activities that will engage your intellect.

You are my daughter, my only daughter, (and so my favorite) and I will continue to love
you forever and always. But I think you should seriously reconsider this path that you
are on. It is not befitting for someone of your talents and intelligence.

Your father of course will support you in your choice to marry Bruce. He feels that it will
all work itself out. I don’t share his optimism. Again, I say this as your mother who
loves you.

Love, Mu

13. Pine Bluff, AR – divorce. July 15, 1990 to August 31, 1995
Team Member

TO : Kate Dutrow – Extruder Dept. Mgr. DATE : October 16, 1994
FROM : Paul Henson CC : Johnny Bice
Bobby Clemmons
Sylvester Higgins
James Lisle
William Townsend
James Wreyford
SUBJECT : Paper Loss Task Team Performance

I want to recognize the exceptional results of this task team in your production area.
Thanks to your efforts, the extruder department has contributed an extra $1,150,000 in
profit to the Pine Bluff Mill for 1994. By working together, and using the talents and
brainpower of all of the team members, you were able to reduce the department’s paper
losses without spending additional capital. The changes in operational methods that you
developed and implemented across the 180 employees will continue to help the
department be profitable.

Please pass on my thanks and appreciation to all of the members of your team:

Johnny Bice – Shipping

Bobby Clemmons – No. 7 Extruder operator
Sylvester Higgins – No. 6 Extruder Backtender
James Lisle – Quality Inspector
William Townsend – Shift Manager
James Wreyford – No. 8 Extruder Third Hand

Your success is no doubt the result of the diversity of your team, your facilitation skills,
and your passion for the project.

Paul Henson
Pine Bluff Mill Manager
14. Collierville, TN - August 31, 1995 to June 25, 1996
15. Framingham, MA - June 25, 1996 to April 10, 1999

Now I remember what 7th graders are like

Junior Achievement is your way of giving back to your community! Do you want to
spend time with children? Do you want to share your unique knowledge and expose
kids to the ways and means of the American economy? Then JA is for you!

Are you concerned that you won’t know what to say? JA’s approach is to give you a
developed program that you can use to deliver our curriculum. We encourage you to
share your experience, and show kids how to generate wealth and manage it. You can
be a part of the entrepreneurs of the future through JA!

16. Cordova, TN - April 10, 1999 to October 15, 2001

17. Kalamazoo, MI – death of my son.
October 15, 2001 to present

The Depths of the Night - September 21, 2006

It’s the house in New York, but it’s not. It has some recognizable characteristics from
reality, some from an imagined world. My 11-year-old son and his boy cousins are
running up and down a very, very long staircase, playing tag. My daughter, as always, is
attached to my hip as I do my household chores. I look at my beautiful, active son, but
what I can see is the back and top of his head and his right profile, not his face. I glance
back to my daughter, who is gazing up at me. I say to her, “he’s dead, you know.” She
looks at him as he takes off after one of his cousins. Smiling back at me, she says, “well,
not really.”

A conversation between Bobbi and me

“I’m not saying I can’t do this. I can. What I’m saying is that it’s been a while since
I’ve had to teach anything to a group of students in a school.”
“You’ve worked with adults who are worse than high-schoolers. Worse than
kindergartners most of the time.”
“It’ll be different when I’m not the boss. When I don’t have the ability to fire them at
“It will be better. The kids will look up to you, they’ll see you as the source of all
information. You’re their ticket to knowing stuff.”
“This isn’t helping. I’m way nervous about the change in career paths already.”
“This is what you’ve talked about for a long time. You are SO lucky to have the chance
to do what you want to, what you’ve always wanted to do.”
“This falls into the category of ‘be careful what you wish for’”.
My Resume – Official Version

5224 Green Pine Lane
Kalamazoo, MI 49009


To obtain a high school chemistry teaching position in a public school where I can create a caring learning
community, and facilitate students in developing critical thinking and scientific skills. My industry experience
provides a relevant background in management and interpersonal skills. Also willing to participate in extra-
curricular academic activities.


B.S. Chemistry - 1980 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

In progress – Initial Teaching Certificate in Secondary Education, Chemistry/English (20 credits completed)


1979 to 1990 - Specialty Paperboard, Beaver Falls, NY Formerly - Boise Cascade

1990 to January 2007 - International Paper, Pine Bluff, AR; Memphis, TN; Framingham, MA; Kalamazoo, MI
February 2007 – Evergreen Packaging Inc., Kalamazoo, MI (Purchased by Rank Group/CHH)

My Resume – Reality

5224 Green Pine Lane
Kalamazoo, MI 49009

To obtain a teaching position in a public school where I can make a difference, and help some kids that might not
otherwise find what they need – whatever that is. My industry experience will be fun to tell students about, add
relevance to the chemistry content, and help the girls (and boys) in the class realize that they can have careers, not
just jobs.


B.S. Chemistry - 1980 from Missouri Institute of Trucking. B.S. has the meaning you might think it has.
In progress – this applies to everything. Thank goodness I can still learn.


1979 to 1995 – Raised two children. This became a hell-on-wheels proposition at times.
1995 to Present – Do you ever stop raising them? Do you ever stop worrying about them?
1980 – 2008 – Also managing a variety of adults, not quite adults, never-grew-up humans who think they’re adults,
psychopaths, and a lot of individuals who profoundly affected me. Discovered the value and pain of toughlove, and
real love.

1. Blank United States map courtesy of

2. Lambert, Craig. Mind Over Water. p. 124. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Words for the poem, The Powerhouse Stretch, extracted from this book, which is for me
an exquisite reminder of what I learned (and continue to learn) from rowing.

3. For What Parents Don’t Say, I have created an imaginary letter from my mother
(known as “Mu”). While I believe this to be what she thought to herself, it was never
verbalized. I’m certain that she took into consideration my age and ilk at that point in my
life, and realized it would have galvanized the relationship she hoped to extinguish.

I would like to thank that same woman, my mother, for retrieving the dates of our moves.
With great delight and I’m sure smugness, she pulled them out of some black hole in the
house in Downers Grove, IL.