Diana Kirkham, new Idyllwild School kindergarten and first-grade combo teacher, has taught for 32 years, 12 of those years in special education. She spent 14 years teaching at Hemet Unified’s Little Lake Elementary, hired by current IS Principal Matt Kraemer.
She and her teacher-husband Pete moved to the Hill in February. Pete commutes to Hemet High where he teaches biology and advanced-placement anatomy and physiology.
Interviewed on the first day of school, Kirkham exuded energy and organizational ability that were on display a week later when her picture was taken for this article. Kirkham had configured the classroom into sections that would best accommodate her 12 kindergarten and seven first-grade students. Hall cubbies were labeled for each student.
This full-out organizational sprint is not surprising, considering Kirkham’s athletic background. She and Pete are inveterate mountain bikers. They coached the Hemet High School Mountain Bike Club for seven years. They recently completed a summer road trip up the coast to Oregon and then over to Idaho, camping and mountain biking along the way. As a family, with their
two adult sons and daughter, they climbed Mt. Whitney, ascending to its 14,505-foot summit. Their athletic hobbies also include trail running, snowboarding and backpacking.
Kirkham said teaching is about building relationships with her students, bonding and watching them grow. “Seeing them when they come back later, after they have grown, is something that is so satisfying,” said Kirkham. She said she is excited to be joining the faculty of one of the district’s most prestigious schools.
Kirkham received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Utica, with a double major in psychology and sociology, a master’s degree in education from Azusa Pacific University in Azusa and a teaching credential from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She has taught in the LA Unified, Monrovia Unified, Moreno Valley Unified and Hemet Unified school districts.