Former College of the Siskiyous student Kristen Riccomini is now a first grade teacher at Mount Shasta Elementary School.

I first met Kristen Riccomini when she was still Kristen DeBortoli. Kristen was a camp counselor at a summer basketball camp that I attended at COS.

What I didn’t know then is what an important part Kristen would play in my life and that of many of the families in south Siskiyou County.

Kristen is currently my youngest son’s first grade teacher at Mt. Shasta Elementary. She is a wonderful teacher and my son absolutely loves her. Because of her connection to COS, I knew she would be the perfect person to choose for a COS alumni profile story. I asked Kristen to share with readers a little bit of information about herself, her family, and about her memories and experiences as a COS student:

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in McCloud as the youngest of four children to parents Douglas and Margaret. My older siblings are Noelle, Joel, and Jennifer (all COS alumni). As a child, I learned the value of family and later as an adult the amazing life one can have from growing up in a small community. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your family.

A: I am married to Kale Riccomini (Principal of Mt. Shasta Elementary and Sisson School) and we live in Mt. Shasta with our three boys (13 year old twins Kole and Kaden and 8 year old Kellen). Our lives today revolve around our boys and all their sports activities... which I truly love! My interests include anything to do with my family and teaching again!

Q: Why did you choose to attend College of the Siskiyous?

A: I attended COS mainly to play basketball for Tom Powers. My entire family, including parents, all attended COS before me and it just seemed like the perfect stepping stone for me after high school. Attending a small high school like McCloud and graduating and attending a large four year college terrified me! So COS was a perfect transition school for me, plus I got to live at home too!

At COS I had the great opportunity to play basketball – a sport I grew up playing and loving.

(Note – During her freshman and sophomore years, Kristen was selected as MVP of the Golden Valley Conference and a member of the All-State Team. She is the only basketball player from COS to be selected to the All-State Team in consecutive years. In 2003, Kristen was inducted into the COS Athletic Hall of Fame.)

Q: Any favorite COS instructors?

A: Favorite instructors at COS included Eve Thompson, Sid Smith, Donn Van Etten, Barry Barnes, Denis Hagarty, Tom Powers, Robert Sanchez, Bruce Friend, Don Stensaas… the list goes on! All my instructors that I encountered were fantastic... I did not have ONE that I didn’t like.

Q: What did you do after graduating from COS?

A: I received my associate’s degree from COS in May 1992. I transferred to Chico State University and graduated in 1994 Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor of arts degree in Liberal Studies and earned my teaching credential (also from Chico State) in 1995.

Q: Why did you become a teacher?

A: From the moment I could remember thinking about what I wanted to be “when I grew up” it was always teaching! My parents were both educators, mom Margaret taught elementary school at McCloud and my dad Douglas was the principal at McCloud High School and later Superintendent of Siskiyou Union High School District. I always loved children and wanted to spend my career educating them. My parents were sometimes baffled that one of my sisters and I chose education, because they said we only saw the long hours and energy teaching took...we could never see the daily benefits that occurred in the classroom.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching?

A: Taking 13 years off from teaching to be a stay at home mom is a decision that I will never regret. Within the first week back into full-time teaching, it felt like being “home” again. I love that teaching is so different every day... from hour to hour! I love being with kids and helping them find those “ah ha” moments in learning. I love seeing kids get excited about learning something new or sharing their previous knowledge! I love fostering a SAFE environment for all my students and watching as we become our own little “family” and “learning community” that accepts everyone for who they are and celebrates one another’s differences. I get to go home daily with memories! The funny things kids say on a daily basis create the best memories... their excitement about learning something new and celebrating their successes each and every day!”

• Summer and fall registration at College of the Siskiyous starts April 28.