Prescott educator and entrepreneur follows her passion in the classroom and the community
By Tara Fort
For Kathryn Van Demark, eighth-grade Life Skills Instructor at Prescott Mile High Middle School, creating a curriculum that centers on teen wellness and real-world readiness was a natural extension of her focus and education in college. She attended Lesley University in Boston where she obtained a degree in Holistic Psychology and Wellness.
“My degree provided me with a very important lens which I’ve applied to my work — from building an online education platform to opening restaurants to teaching,” Kathryn said. “I’ve always learned the most from just being on the job. That experience has gifted me with a wealth of inspiration for the Life Skills curriculum.”
Kathryn’s Life Skills class continually asks teens the question, “Who are you?” and explores the answer throughout the semester.
“We start by focusing on identity and who we are on many levels, including the online presence,” said Kathryn. “We look at who we want to be and then we talk about how to get there.”
Kathryn crafts a curriculum that offers a natural segue into job readiness, college exploration and civic engagement. “It is my goal that kids leave my classroom with a toolkit of simple practices like mindfulness to support well-being, clarity and confidence in obtaining their first job, and the development of critical thinking skills.”
In 2020, Kathryn moved back to Prescott from Boston to start her new chapter. “Like many others, my partner Max — who is a self-taught businessman — and I found that the pandemic turned our world upside down. It was made clear that it was time to prioritize our dreams. We bought a fixer-upper and started a new business named Theodore’s Fine Foods after our dog, selling homemade bagels at the Prescott Farmer’s Market every Saturday!”
Bagel selections include favorites like the Everything Bagel and Cinnamon Raisin, although Kathryn cites her favorite as the Chili Fennel with House-Cultured Roasted Garlic Jalapeno Cream Cheese.
She credits her entrepreneurial nature to her parents who pioneered small businesses in Prescott for many years. She added, “I think this spirit shows up most in my willingness to jump into something that I’m passionate about and then figure out how to make it happen in the process!”
A Prescott High School graduate, Kathryn continues a generational legacy within the school system where her father also graduated — her connection to the district runs deep. “I am so impressed by the warmth, collaboration, support, and community that I’ve experienced at PUSD. It is not an easy time to be in education, but the grace and commitment my administrators and fellow instructors have toward our kids is unshakable.”
For more information about Kathryn Van Demark and the Prescott Unified School District, visit www.prescottschools.com.