Kim Tobin King '85: Living and Giving an Education that Lasts a Lifetime

Kim Tobin King '85, Connecticut Teacher of the Year, lives the Country School mission. We are proud to welcome her back to campus to receive the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Last October, Kim Tobin King ’85 was named Connecticut Teacher of the Year. An elementary school art teacher in Mansfield, she was described as “an exceptional educator who strives to give all her students a voice through art and creativity, and in doing so, empowers them as young learners and citizens to learn more about themselves and the world beyond the walls of the classroom” (from a release shared by Gov. Ned Lamont after he surprised her at school with the announcement). She was called a role model who is “committed to her own growth and learning,” ensuring that “her leadership and teaching practices continue to evolve.” And, as Education Association President Kate Dias said, “Equity, empathy, and respect are at the heart of her teaching.” 

For those reasons and more, The Country School is thrilled to present the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award to Kim Tobin King in a special ceremony on campus on November 22. An honor bestowed annually on an alumna/us who embodies the spirit of the Country School Mission, the Distinguished Alumni Award seems tailor-made for this year’s recipient. The Country School Mission Statement speaks about honoring students’ “creativity, sense of wonder, and intellectual curiosity.” It talks of “nurturing every student’s unique role in the community, empowering each to serve the common good” and about creating graduates who “face the future with confidence and an education that lasts a lifetime.” Likewise, the school’s corresponding IDEA Statement, guided by the school mission, speaks to empathy, diversity, inclusion, kindness, and respect and to the goal of creating “leaders and listeners who, through their compassionate actions, can change the world.” As Liz Lightfoot ’77 P ’05, ’07, ’08, ’12, director of Alumni Relations, said, “Kim King doesn’t just embody the spirit of our school mission; she is the embodiment of the school mission itself.” 

When we present her with the award this fall, it will not be the first time Kim has been honored by The Country School. At her graduation in 1985, then-Head of School Carol Robinson presented the school’s Faculty Award to Kim. “Ever since you entered this community in Grade 6, your positive outlook, consistent effort, and genuine attitude of caring have been quiet examples to the entire school,” Mrs. Robinson wrote in the letter accompanying the award. “The participants in the ski program elected you as ‘the person most helpful to others.’ Your unflagging energy has spurred on your teammates in athletic competitions. You have met high academic and moral standards for yourself and have encouraged others to emulate them. The Country School faculty awards you this prize with affection and respect. It is proud to have you represent the school in the larger community. We will watch your progress with pride.”

Kim’s journey since graduation from The Country School has been equally impressive. After leaving The Country School, she went on to Hamden Hall and then to Syracuse University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in art photography. She received her Masters in Art Education from New York University, where, through a graduate assistantship, she taught reading in the Bronx, New York through NYU’s Metro Center for Urban Education and John Hopkins University. In 2002, she received an Aetna fellowship to attend UConn’s Connecticut Writing Project Summer Institute. And in 2020, she was awarded a grant from Fund for Teachers to study the art and culture of South Korea in an effort to help foster a greater understanding of universal humanity among her students.

Kim has served as a K-4 art teacher at Mansfield public schools for the past six years. In addition to her roles as art teacher at Southeast Elementary School and the Annie E. Vinton School, she serves (or has served) on the district’s Curriculum Committee, Leadership Committee, Equity & Diversity Committee, Social and Emotional Committee, and Sunshine Committee. Prior to her work in Mansfield, Kim served at Riverside Magnet School in East Hartford and Westbrook High School in Westbrook. She uses art education to nurture and stretch her students’ thinking while also helping them recognize the commonality between their own stories and experiences to those of others. She believes that student growth goes hand-in-hand with teacher growth, which is why she is committed to always seeking out new learning opportunities for her professional development. Beyond her classroom, King has worked towards creating safe and equitable spaces of learning for her students and the greater community. And if that's not enough, Kim is also a freelance artist and writer, having contributed to Parent Magazine, FamilyFun, and Reader’s Digest, among others, and a frequent presenter on topics related to creativity, promoting literacy through art, and parenting after adoption.  

To paraphrase what Carol Robinson said back in 1985 when she honored Kim with the Faculty Award, we couldn’t be more proud to call Kim Tobin King one of ours. Congratulations, Kim, on your many accomplishments, and thank you for making a difference in so many lives as you give the greatest gift a teacher can give to a student: an education that lasts a lifetime.
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Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child.