New York native Katie Rogers, 27, is a kindergarten through fifth grade math master teacher at a public school on Detroit’s west side. She’s gained a following as @thecityteacher on Instagram where she shares fashion finds and must-haves for the classroom.
By Rachel Schostak
Photos courtesy Katie Rogers
1. Tell us about your professional background: I started my professional career five years ago here in Detroit. I moved here to pursue both my teaching career and to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. I’ve taught grades K-3 across the city. I’m currently in the position of K-5 math master teacher at an amazing public school on the west side. I spend half the day teaching third grade math and the other half working with K-5 teachers as an instructional coach.
2. Can you share how you got started in education? Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher? If you would have asked me 10 years ago, when I was a senior in high school, teaching wasn’t even on my radar as a potential career. I was really torn between wanting to work in fashion advertising and kinesiology! I started college as an exercise science major, but I eventually realized that I had a desire to be more creative than that type of job would allow. My college roommate was an education major, and I always thought her projects and field experiences sounded really cool. I spontaneously changed my major to education halfway through my junior year and haven’t looked back!
3. What do you enjoy most about your job? I’m really passionate about education reform, and Detroit is an area with a rapidly changing educational and political landscape. I think it’s really exciting to teach here because I get to experience policy changes firsthand and form my own opinions about the outcomes they have on student learning.
4. We love your Instagram @thecityteacher — what inspired you to start doing this? Are there a lot of teachers becoming influencers or blogging like you are? My family and friends live around the country, so when I moved to Detroit to teach, I started posting pictures from my classroom to stay in touch and keep everyone updated. Eventually, other teachers started following me for classroom ideas and vice versa. It can be kind of isolating being the only adult in a classroom all day, so we mainly used Instagram as a social media tool to interact with other teachers. Instagram stories weren’t around yet, so blogging was really the only way to really go into detail about picture books, classroom organization ideas and lesson plans. Once Instagram stories and swipe up links became available, teacher Instagram accounts really became popular in our community. There are definitely a lot of accounts like mine out there —I’ve met hundreds of teacher bloggers over the past five years! There are about 10 of us in Metro Detroit who get together regularly so I’m really grateful for the friendships this community has brought me both on and offline.
5. I appreciate how you share your outfits, school supplies and other stylish tips as it relates to your life and job. What do you enjoying posting most about? I love to read, so I love sharing reviews of books designed for teachers. I have a series on my where I categorize books I’ve read by topic, along with a short review. My favorite post I’ve ever written is called “8 Essential Books for New Teachers,” and it’s a really popular one with my readers, as well. I love the summer so I can read and review more books!
6. For the upcoming school season what are some must-have items in your work bag? Work bag is the Madewell transport tote in black. Inside I must have:
Item 1: My planner! I just use the basic weekly/monthly Blue Sky ones because they’re super lightweight.
Item 2: Travel-size hand sanitizer.
Item 3: Smith’s Rosebud Salve Tube in minted rose. It’s a really lightweight tinted lip balm.
Item 4: Shinola large hard linen journal in pink. It’s the only notebook that my highlighter won’t bleed through.
Item 5: Seltzer Goods Seven Year Pen. I get mine from ZMC Pharmacy in Royal Oak.
Item 6: TheraBreath Mandarin + Mint Dry Mouth Lozenges (also from ZMC).
7. What are some back-to-school accessories every teacher needs? A cute lanyard/ID case for classroom keys and teacher badge. A bag that easily transitions from day to night. I’ve used the Madewell transport tote for years. It holds my laptop and planner perfectly but doesn’t look like a work bag if I’m going to dinner or drinks after school.
8. Where do you find inspiration for your style and school posts? Most of the time, the inspiration comes from right inside of my classroom! I usually take pictures at the end of the school day so I’m just sharing an outfit I liked or something that happened that day.
Your Local Love List
9. Are you a native Detroiter? What do you love most about our community? I’m originally from Long Island, New York and moved to the area five years ago. I came here for both for work and to attend grad school at the University of Michigan. What I love most is the feeling of camaraderie here in Detroit. There are a lot of really cool people working together to achieve great things for the city.
10. Your current go-to spot? Grey Ghost is hands down my go-to because it’s super walkable for me. During the week, I’m usually eating at the bar with a friend or grabbing carry out. On the weekend, I love going for brunch and ordering a cheeseburger from their late-night menu. If I’m driving, Kuzzo’s Chicken and Waffles is my favorite. I used to teach about a block away, and I miss it being my go-to lunch spot, but I still enjoy going during brunch for their boozy Kool-Aid. When I’m getting together with friends in Metro Detroit, our favorite spot is The Corner in Ferndale. They have a great menu, as well as a wall full of board games to play while you enjoy a drink and wait for your food to come out.
11. Where do you enjoy shopping locally? Caruso Caruso and ZMC Pharmacy are my favorite locally-owned shops for clothes, accessories and beauty products. Leon & Lulu is my favorite for home items and gifts.
12. Any suggestions for back-to-school shopping for school supplies for parents? Amazon! I always create an Amazon wish list for parents because school supply prices are much lower during back-to-school season compared to an office supply store.
Now on to style…
13. Three words to describe your style? Practical, transitional, high/low mix.
14. One item you can’t leave home without? My charge mini pouch by Stoney Clover. I work from my phone a lot, so I have a charger, ear buds and spare battery with me at all times. This pouch is such a fun way to store my wires and keep them easily accessible. I always get compliments on it whenever a friend needs to plug in.
15. You’re never fully dressed without _____? A signature scent — mine’s Jo Malone peony & blush suede.
16. Your must-have item for your fall 2019 wardrobe? A moto jacket in a jewel tone. I haven’t decided which color yet, but I’m thinking emerald green or a deep purple. My black moto jacket is a go-to closet staple for me, so I think it’ll be fun to experiment with color.
17. Your most cherished item in your closet? This is definitely a sentimental item for me — I have this great pair of embellished linen Charlotte Olympia kitty flats from my first year of teaching. I worked after school tutoring three days a week and worked Saturdays on my school’s technology grant so I could get those shoes at the end of the year. Whenever I wear them, I can’t help but think of the amazing, challenging and hilarious year I had with that class of first graders.
18. Do you have a style icon? Michelle Obama for sure. There’s always a fun element to her outfits, whether it’s with pattern, color or texture. I love how she mixes high-end pieces with affordable items from some of my favorite stores, such as J. Crew and Club Monaco. She really proves that great style is accessible at any price point, which I appreciate as a working young professional.
19. Who or what inspires your style? My daily schedule inspires my style a lot. Due to the nature of my position, I’m either running around our school teaching in different classrooms or in meetings all day. What I would wear on a day I’m sitting on a carpet with kindergarteners looks very different than what I would wear for a professional development session with other teachers and school leaders. Monday through Friday, I’m always wearing something transitional that can easily take me from work to dinner and drinks. Patterns are my favorite way to transition a look from day to night while still staying comfortable. On the weekend, I usually have multiple outfit changes because whatever I’m doing will affect what I decide to wear.
21. Most recent book you read and next book on your reading list? “The Pelican Brief” by John Grisham. My parents recently moved from my childhood home in New York to Florida, and I came across it while helping them pack. Our books were categorized by genre, so it was piled in with my Stephen King books — he’s my favorite author. Long answer to a short question, but I had to provide some context as to why I just read a book that was released around the time I was born. Next on my list is “We Cast A Shadow” by Maurice Carlos Ruffin.
22. Favorite quote or words to live by? “In the course of your lives, without any plan on your part, you’ll come to see suffering that will break your heart. When it happens, and it will, don’t turn away from it; turn toward it. That is the moment when change is born.” — Melinda Gates