Living her whole life by the philosophy of doing her best in whatever she did, following her interests, continuing to learn and giving back to others, Carolina Means Bitterwolf knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. Born in Iowa City, Iowa, to a family of educators, she was raised in an environment where great importance was placed on teaching and learning. Her father, Duane Everett Means, was a professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa, and her mother, Elizabeth Alice Keyser, taught nursing, and her grandmothers on both sides had spent time in education as well. Ms. Bitterwolf is also incredibly grateful for the outstanding teachers she had in her early education from preschool through eighth grade.
Earning a Bachelor of Science in education from the Centenary College of Louisiana in 1968, Ms. Bitterwolf was licensed to teach grades K-8 in West Virginia and began her career as a teacher at Waitman Barbe Elementary School in Monongalia County in 1968 before serving as a circulation librarian for the Morgantown Public Library from 1971 to 1972. Between 1973 and 1974, she was a preschool team teacher and music coordinator for the United States Naval Training Center (USNTC) Bainbridge Kindergarten and the director for the USNTC Bainbridge Nursey in Maryland. She then served as the secretary to the school director and librarian for the Hartford Memorial Hospital School of Practical Nursing from 1975 to 1976 and as a kindergarten teacher for the College Park Methodist Kindergarten and Day Care Center in Orlando, Florida, from 1976 to 1977.
Continuing to learn throughout her career, Ms. Bitterwolf achieved additional K-8 teaching certifications in the states of Florida, Maryland, Washington and Idaho. In 1977, she became a CETA reading teacher at Bates Junior High School with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Maryland, which was followed by a position as a teacher at Germantown Elementary School from 1978 to 1982 and at Hebron-Harman Elementary School from 1982 to 1986. While teaching mathematics and pre-algebra at Annapolis Middle School from 1986 to 1988, she achieved a Master of Education in mathematics education from the University of Maryland in 1987 and briefly taught business mathematics at Anne Arundel Community College in 1988. Ms. Bitterwolf then joined Moscow Middle School in Idaho, where she taught ninth grade reading and seventh grade study skills until 1995.
In 1994, Ms. Bitterwolf became one of the first group of teachers to be board certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, something she notes as a major highlight of her career. She then taught fifth grade at West Park Elementary School from 1995 to 2001 and earned her Doctor of Philosophy in curriculum and instruction from the University of Idaho, where she had previously acted as a support teacher and taught the course, Chemistry for the Elementary School Teacher, between 1989 and 1991. Ms. Bitterwolf concluded her career as a sixth grade teacher at Russell Elementary School, teaching language arts, history, science and mathematics from 2001 until her retirement in 2006.
In addition to her primary responsibilities, Ms. Bitterwolf has been very involved in professional organizations in her field. Spending two years on the Idaho Professional Standards Commission, she has held various leadership roles with the Maryland State Education Association, the Idaho Education Association, the Moscow Education Association, the International Literacy Association, the Montcalm Area Reading Council and the Idaho Council of the International Literacy Association. She has also spent time as a member of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County and the Idaho chapter of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. On a civic level, Ms. Bitterwolf remains involved with Rotary International and Friendly Neighbors Senior Citizens Inc.
Throughout her career, Ms. Bitterwolf has been an active public speaker, giving presentations and putting on workshops since the late 1970s. From the late ‘80s and into the early ‘90s, she managed the Moscow School District Writing Workshop and spoke at various language and mathematics workshops sponsored by professional education organizations. She was also involved in workshops on drug-free school environments, stress management, leadership training and sex education. In 1988, Ms. Bitterwolf contributed to the seventh grade mathematics curriculum update at Annapolis Middle School.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Bitterwolf hopes to do more volunteer work in her community. In particular, she would like to get involved in the Order of the Eastern Star, as there is a long history of family involvement in that organization. Living her life by the mottos “Always do your best no matter what you may attempt to do” and “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” Ms. Bitterwolf is deeply grateful to all of the teachers and supporters who have impacted her along her professional journey. Furthermore, she is equally grateful to the many, many students she has had the privilege of teaching over the years, along with the parents who put in the effort to help give her students quality experiences that stretched beyond the classroom through serving as chaperones for field trips, supporting service projects and more.