Rachael Castillo is an English teacher and the speech/debate coach at Paducah Tilghman High School. This is her second year teaching at her alma mater. She previously taught English in South Korea where she found a new passion - karaoke. iMeet this busy, but very fulfilled teacher who is currently looking to adopt a rescue dog.
Hi, Rachael. Welcome to iMeet. Tell us a little about yourself…
Although I was not born in Paducah, I consider myself 100% Paducahan! I graduated from Paducah Tilghman in 2009 and went on to study English and education at Georgetown College just north of Lexington. After college, I wanted to see more of the world, so I moved to South Korea, where I stayed for three years on a Fulbright grant to teach English as a foreign language.
I not married yet – maybe one day. For now I have my sights set on a furry family member – I’m in the market for a dog to adopt - preferably a rescue!
Why did you decide to get into the education field?
All of the stock answers apply - I wanted to make a difference, I enjoyed my subject as a student, a number of teachers positively impacted me, etc. What’s made me stick with education, though, are the kids. Even on bad days, I have at least one interaction with a student that uplifts my spirits and brightens my day.
If you weren't a teacher, what do you think you would be doing?
My first ever career goal was pizza delivery person. I guess I liked pizza a little too much as a child. J
What is the best part of your job? What is the hardest?
The best: the kids, the speech team, the fact that I get to discuss books for a living. The hardest: how time-consuming it all is! Mine is definitely not a 40-hour work week.
How do you like teaching at PTHS?
This is my second year teaching at Tilghman, and I teach sophomore English, AP senior English, and a class called Intro to Speech and Theater. I’m also the Speech/Debate team coach.
Coaching the speech team is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. Kids who would otherwise not have any exposure to public speaking or acting get a chance to hone important skills. What these students learn and practice helps them develop skills that will let them ace interviews and make lasting impressions on important people. As an added bonus, watching the kids perform and grow stronger as performers is a lot of fun!
What competitions do your teams attend? How do you prep for those?
We compete at a variety of tournaments in western and central Kentucky and Tennessee. Once the season really gets going, we have tournaments three of four weekends a month. We practice three times a week, so it’s a major time commitment but is worth every second.
Has teaching always been your passion? Were you a member of a speech/debate club?
It has, and I was! As a Tilghman student, I was co-captain of the speech team for two years. I never thought I would be able to coach a speech team of my own, but that just makes it even sweeter!
Thanksgiving is around the corner. What are you most thankful for?
I am grateful for all the people in my life who stuck with me even as I was traipsing across the globe. Four of my closest friends flew all the way to South Korea to visit me while I was there - and that is true friendship!
How will you spend the holidays this year?
I wish I could entertain you with tales of exciting holiday plans, but alas, I cannot. I might look for my new dog baby, though!
What's your favorite dish during Thanksgiving?
Unpopular opinion incoming: Cranberry sauce is the best Thanksgiving dish.
What is your all-time favorite song? The song that makes you want to get up and dance?
I can’t choose an all-time favorite, but I do have a secret passion for karaoke. I picked it up while living in Korea, where karaoke is called “noraebang.” The best song for this is, unequivocally, “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers.