The Heart of Kernersville: Nathan Kottlowski

By NJ Clausen

Spring is in the air, and Easter will soon be here! This month I have the pleasure of introducing you to a man who is grateful for all the opportunities that God has given to him throughout the years…Nathan Kottlowski, aka ‘Mr.K’.

The oldest of five siblings, Nathan feels very blessed to have grown up on a farm in Indiana and privileged to be part of a close family. He describes the farm as their playground growing up, although everyone did have chores. Nathan is grateful for the work ethic and responsibility he developed early in life.  He loved to work in the fields to prepare the land for planting, and at 10 years old he was driving a tractor on the farm.  Nathan enjoyed baling hay, the special smell of the hay, and how great the hose felt as he and his siblings rinsed off the chaff. The farm was both agricultural and dairy, and Nathan smiled while remembering all the wonderful items his mom would make to feed the family, including various milks, cream, ice cream, cheese and butter.

Kids from neighboring farms would gather at Nathan’s home, where they would look for crawdads in the creeks, ride bikes and enjoy the delicious treats Nathan’s mom always had on hand. A favorite childhood memory involved the drifts of snow in the winter and digging tunnels through them, although his happiest memories are of family and friends at the house.

Nathan’s elementary school years were in a two-room schoolhouse, with 1st-4th grade in one room, and 5th-8th grade in the other. When entering 6th grade, an additional room had been added to the school. When graduating from 8th grade, there were 8 students in his graduating class, and 63 students in the school, a vast difference from the 500 students at the public high school! As Nathan had played Little League and ran track, he did know some of the students at his new school. He continued with track for conditioning and enjoyed basketball and baseball. Nathan loved math, and the teacher would have the top 8 students (which included him) collaborate on challenging problems in an attached lab room. As part of both the ‘nerds’ and the ‘jocks’, Nathan was a bridge between the two groups.  One of his favorite memories was during senior year, when practicing at a large gym prior to basketball sectionals. A starting forward twisted his ankle, and Nathan was moved to a starting position. He calls what happened that day craziness—he scored 22 points, 8 rebound shots.. and even his barnyard shots went in! 

After high school, Nathan went to Concordia Teachers College in Illinois. Following his junior year and student teaching, Nathan had an opportunity for an internship to teach for a year. He taught 31 students in 3rd grade and was mentored by the principal who also became a lifelong friend. His senior year included a horrible winter, with 30 days below freezing and a mountain of snow over 6 feet tall! Following this, Nathan told the placement officer that he would really like to go south. The principal of St. John’s Lutheran School in Winston-Salem went up to Illinois and offered the job of teaching 24 second grade students. Nathan took the position, and in addition to teaching academics he also taught PE, music, and art. He taught there for six years, and through another teacher he met his future wife, Tina. They were married in 1981 and moved to Kernersville in 1984. An unforeseen tragedy had Nathan stepping back from teaching and becoming responsible for a local business for 20 years. The birth of his son brought him the joy of being a stay-at-home Dad. With his son in school and before the birth of his second child, Nathan taught medical office personnel how to use software programs, which got him started with computers and technology, a field he really enjoyed. After his daughter started school, Nathan resumed teaching 5th grade part time at Jefferson Elementary. A fulltime 5th grade position became available at Cash Elementary, which he took, followed by a change to the Computer Lab and Tech Facilitator. Nathan remained at Cash for 21 years, and during this time Nathan also earned his Master’s in Educational Leadership. After retiring from Cash, in 2020 he received a call from St. John’s Lutheran School and became Principal there. As this was during Covid, they prepared the school for student safety, and were able to have in class learning. After 2 years and helping to find his replacement, ‘Mr. K’ retired.

Nathan is a man of faith and has seen how God’s hand has guided him throughout his life. He likes to encourage people to do their best and always look for the positive. Nathan stressed the importance of prayer and to take one day at a time. If you need help, ask! Be a lifetime learner and have fun.

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