The Spaulding zoo

Agriculture teacher cares for classroom pets


Photo by Lourdes Quijas

Agriculture instructor Kim Spaulding proudly holds a duck. She has given students the opportunity to interact with many animals in her 25 years of teaching.

Story by Lourdes Quijas, Staff Writer

Every year, animals get hurt in the wild and are put in rehab facilities, but some are lucky enough to end up in great care under one of Texas High’s own. From ducks to fish to chickens, agriculture teacher Kim Spaulding takes care of the animals that have been given to her throughout the school years. Even with all her students, she still takes care of the animals the way she would take care of her kids.

Spaulding has been a teacher for 25 years. She’s been an agriculture teacher. She’s taken care of all kinds of animals. Goats, lizards, raccoons and so much more. Spaulding was a middle school science teacher for 17 years, and her classroom was home to all sorts of animals. 

“When I taught middle school, I had a classroom full of animals,” Spaulding said. “You name it, I had it. The students had to apply for the job of keeping the animal they were interested in. My students always took care of the animals. Even now, if we have a guest animal, the students take care of it. I already know how, they just needed to learn. Also, the pets were a positive reinforcement. If they misbehaved or were failing, no pet time.”

Even fish and lizards were under their care. Students enjoyed being with the animals and even taking care of them. They got to learn how to care for them anytime Spaulding had a sub or was out for a few minutes. One especially beloved class pet, Tiger Lily, was Spaulding’s best friend for a long time. The students in the classroom would be scared to pet her, but once they did, she got all the attention.

I had Tiger Lily, a classroom cat, for nine years. She was lawyer, principal and superintendent approved, but eventually a policy was created [against her]. That cat was great,” Spaulding said. “Kids would be afraid of her and then become best friends with her. She passed away at age 18. She often appeared in the faculty section of the yearbook with her own picture.”

When Tiger Lily passed, Spaulding was upset but understood that her best friend had to leave her, and she had to move on to new creatures. Contrasting from Tiger Lily, Spaulding has had a few animals she was not particularly fond of.

My least favorite classroom pet might be a rabbit,” Spaulding said. “They are too big, make messes and cages are always too small. I was never a fan of the giant millipede, tarantulas and Madagascar hissing roaches.”

When Spaulding has animals come in, she loves all of them, but she doesn’t like the smell and mess every animal makes. Spaulding’s classes always help her out with the animals and care for them when needed. When cleaning the cages, the students must go into the back room and clean any mess the animals made. Students usually volunteer and will do it for extra credit; sometimes they’ll just do it for fun. 

“I don’t miss the smell and extra work plus the expense, but I do miss the snuggles,” Spaulding said. “Petting an animal is a natural stress reducer.”