BRANDENBURG, Ky. — 51-year-old Karen Russell is currently on both sides of the classroom. Russell is currently obtaining her Teacher Education degree from Western Kentucky University, while student teaching at David T. Wilson Elementary School.
She first started college in 1986, but she dropped out after one semester to begin working.
Through the years Russell worked in banking, marketing, and customer service but always knew her heart belonged in the classroom. She tried to pursue school again in the early 2000s but found out she was pregnant with her youngest daughter, inevitability forcing her to drop out.
Life began to slow down a few years ago and she decided she would go back to school for the third time. But this time she would make sure to finish. Being older than both her fellow students and her professors, Russell doesn't see her age as an obstacle, but as an asset in her future career.
“I have raised children, I have grandchildren and so that’s a test right there you know saying do you really want to be around kids all the time and I do,” says Russell.
Fourth-grade teacher, Susan Barley, has been working on lesson plans and student relations with Russell as her cooperating teacher. Working with various non-traditional students in the past, Barley says Russell is an inspiration and a true testament to never give up.
“She’s been on a long journey for sure and definitely persevered through a lot of things and definitely a person to look at as far as finishing, starting something and then finishing no matter how long it took,” says Barley.
Russell is looking forward to graduating this spring and having a classroom by the fall. Sacrificing family time, holidays, and a lot of sleep the past year and a half she can't wait to finally get her diploma. Receiving honors and being on the President's List for the past few semesters, Russell says she is proud of all of her hard work.
“I mean I hope I don’t get an award with a decorated walker or anything like that but hey I’ll take it because I’m proud of myself too," says Russell.