Retirees: Kim Watling


Faith Wallace

Kim Watling retires after teaching at WHHS for nine years. “I want my students to feel when they walk in, take a breath and relax,” Watling said. “See the colors get excited and be in an environment that makes them want to create, and feel safe and inspired.”

For nine years at WHHS, Kim Watling has been a teacher, friend and inspiration to all those she crossed paths with. She has kept the art passed down from past students and now she leaves to pass down her legacy. 

Before teaching became her passion for 25 years, Watling worked for the marketing, advertising and design firm at Kroger. While she was working there, she volunteered to teach at Washington Park. “I just wanted to do something that was more meaningful with my art,” she said. 

After Washington Park, she went on to get her masters in education. Teaching part-time for students with disabilities and elementary school kids. “[After] being an artist over the years and teaching programs, I thought, ‘I want to share this with more people,’’’ Watling said. “I want to be able to do this full-time and take my life’s experiences and hopefully, share those with students.” 

When the opportunity came, she said ‘yes’. 

At WHHS, she sees students express themselves through art, style and clubs. “This is a school that’s so diverse and has so much to offer students,” Watling said. 

Since Watling started, she has been involved with the art club and has focused on community projects like the mosaics and cranes in the forum. She unveils her students’ work frequently at the fall and winter shows, helping students’ talent get published in Scholastic, art shows at Xavier University, art shows at Pendleton and a five-year student program with the Taft Museum. 

When asked what her favorite part of teaching is, Watling said, “Seeing the joy on the students’ faces when they create something that they really like and are proud of and then seeing their artwork displayed,” One of the things she’s noticed from going from elementary to high school is how self-critical students tend to be. 

Watling’s space is a journey in the art of self-expression.“She has shown me how good of an artist I am,” SENIOR Alana Castleberry said. “I did not realize that until this year and I’m gonna miss having that.” 

While Watling shares her experience, her students also share what they know.

“We both work together, we have learned from each other,” Watling said. “I think I learned from them, just as much or probably more than they learned from me.” 

She has learned to enjoy the chatter amongst the students becoming a teacher and friend to many of those in her class. 

“She is a really good teacher to have because if you’re going through a hard time she will help you,” SENIOR Everlyn Haskin said. 

Moving away from old friends, hanging up forms of art in her room as well as the smiling faces. She focuses on looking ahead to her art career and visiting family. “I might come back here and haunt them as the art spirit,” Watling said.