Tomorrow’s teachers excel at Chico State

Education, in its own right, is in fact a performing art!

For Kathy Naas, life does have a soundtrack. It’s accompanied by the sound of her guitar. Or her voice leading her fourth-grade students in song. Or the tentative notes of students in a small Mexican fishing village, playing ukuleles for the first time.

Kathy’s teaching inspiration comes in part from (now retired) Professor Ernst Schoen-René, she says. “His briefcase rolled across the floor, as he, in Bermuda shorts, black socks, and sandals jumped on a desk and introduced concepts of humanities. His most amazing and unique style embedded in me the idea that education, in its own right, is in fact a performing art!”

While Kathy hasn’t adopted the black socks and sandals, she does bring her love of performance to teaching. She integrates song and art into her lessons—and uses her guitar to help her students transition between activities. And each summer, she brings a new musical project to La Casa de los Niños learning center in Lo de Marcos, Nayarit.

As a student herself, in and out of class, Kathy found her Chico Experience invigorating. “Chico State for me was an absolutely exciting experience,” she says. “I knew only my roommate, so after a brief feeling of seclusion, I began to get to know my community.

“On my orange Huffy 10-speed, I rode through a fabulous, tree-lined campus with a creek running its center (biking on campus was allowed back then), through miles of Lower and Upper Bidwell Park, and got to know the highlights of Chico. A first memory was the fact that everywhere you went, people said ‘Hello.’ ” 

Kathy connected to the community through music: “My closest friend and I began playing guitar and singing with fellow musicians. ‘Kathy and Debbie’ performed at small venues such as The Covered Bridge Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser, several weddings, and a few coffeehouses and special events.”

She also found her love of teaching at Chico State. “When the time came to declare a major, I spoke with an advisor,” she says. “I realized, through that visit, that the thing that I most enjoyed was spending time with children. I was a classroom tutor, working in the CAVE program for many semesters, and taught at a summer camp in Malibu.”

That advisor didn’t steer her wrong. She was “pushed towards greatness” by her education professors, she says. And after 31 years as a teacher, Kathy still loves spending her days on the classroom stage.

Read more about Kathy Naas and other amazing educators from Chico State in Chico Statements.

Kathy Naas teaches the ukulele each summer to students at La Casa de los Niños learning center in Nayarit, Mexico.
Kathy Naas teaches the ukulele each summer to students at La Casa de los Niños learning center in Nayarit, Mexico.