CoVa Mom Role Model Kate Maxlow has achieved superhero status, and it comes with abilities ranging from her knack for traveling all over Hampton in one day and jetting to get two get kids from school and activities to using her dynamic learning powers to pursue her doctorate while opening creative portals to write books and blogs. It may seem that this superwoman is faster than the speed of light, but she took a moment to supply us with her best tips and advice on managing it all.
After listing educator, mother, blogger, writer and doctoral student among her accomplishments, Maxlow herself was taken aback by how it all sounds together. “I don’t usually put everything I do together like that,” Maxlow says. “It sounds really busy, which I am, so that makes sense.”
Over the years, Maxlow has worked in education in one capacity or another. Starting as an elementary teacher in Newport News, she accepted a remarkable offer with The College of William and Mary Professor Dr. James Stronge doing educational consulting work.
“I got to see what schools were doing all across the country. I even went to South Africa,” Maxlow says. “I loved the work, but I was just away from my son too much. I didn’t want to be away every month for a week.”
After realizing the need for a change, Maxlow found a position with Hampton City Schools (HCS) as a coordinator for professional learning. This August, she has transitioned to the director of innovation and professional development for HCS. Any given day Maxlow may be coordinating relevant and engaging professional development or working to expand each student’s digital and information gathering skills at school sites.
As part of her position, Maxlow came up with an idea for a blog, The Deeper Learning Conversation, which targets the needs of teachers throughout the year. Each blog post centers around resources and questions gleaned from Maxlow’s scouring of teacher feedback from a series of surveys. Tapping into her stylish side, this mom role model has also created a fashion blog, La Femme Brillante, after realizing that her love for learning includes gobbling up knowledge on fashion tips that are easily executed with little time and a limited budget.
“As a busy mom, I came up with routines and tricks to make it easy every day to look professional and put together without taking a ton of time or spending a ton of money,” Maxlow shares. “I found hairstyles that don’t require a wash and lengthy styling and how to shop deals and consignment stores that have you looking incredibly fashionable and professional.”
Maxlow noted that shopping consignment is also “very environmental.” Top brands are acquired and worn versus letting them overflow a landfill.
Adding to her impressive resume is co-authoring the book 20 Formative Assessment Strategies that Work: A Guide Across Content and Grade Levels, which she co-wrote with Dr. Karen Sanzo. The guide focuses on formative assessment activities for any classroom and across all grade levels. A second book is in the works, but it will have to wait while Maxlow finishes her doctorate in educational leadership at Old Dominion University.
“I started my doctorate at The College of William and Mary 10 years ago, but it wasn’t working with life at that time,” Maxlow says. “I began at ODU in the spring of 2018, and I hope to transfer in some classes and graduate winter 2020.”
To manage her active life, Maxlow lives by her Google calendar and other Google apps to maintain a balance with work and home. She also knows when and how to delegate to her staff without overburdening them and when to say no, even when it is something she genuinely finds fascinating. Some specific technology-based tips include scheduling department meetings with all files linked within the meeting calendar invite; doing everything in Google slides and docs, which saves uploading and downloading; and giving access to her calendar to others to add in their meeting times versus back and forth scheduling emails.
Of course, as a wife and mother of two, family time is also essential to Maxlow's daily agenda. “I like my kids, and they like me,” she says. Her 9-year-old son is not afraid to tell her when she isn’t sharing her time with him, while her energetic 2-year-old will announce that it is time to put her phone in her pocket.
Maxlow knows that she is not perfect, no one is, and she wants all women to try to live without guilt and to fight getting weighed down by perceptions and comparisons.
“There is a conception that some women have it all together, and that’s not true. There are plenty of things going on in my life," she says. "We are all doing the best that we can; none of us are killing it every day. I screw up sometimes and say, ‘Well I screwed up, but I’ll do better tomorrow.’ As women, we need to be really gentle with one another, kinder to each other.”