My career in education has taken a wonderful path that has provided me with extensive and varied experiences.
I began my career as a 7-12 Family and Consumer Science (FACS) Teacher in Copeland, Kansas. This is a small 1A school district in southwest corner of the state. They had stopped the FACS program several years before I arrived on the scene so I was able to start from scratch with no preconceived ideas about what the curriculum should look like. When I approached the Industrial Arts, English, Math and Biology teachers about doing a cross-curricular project the second week of school, I think they might have fainted and then all decided to humor me and go along with this unfamiliar idea. That first project initiated me (and those veteran teachers) into an entire world of collaboration, team work, real-world learning, and helping students create connections from classroom to classroom.
Because Copeland was such a small school and this was a new course offering, Copeland could only offer me a part time position. I just completed my degree from Kansas State University three weeks before, but I willingly approached the Special Education Cooperative in my area, High Plains, to seek teaching opportunities with them. They agreed, that if I would go back to school and get my master’s degree in Gifted Education, I could teach for them part time.
So, I had not even started my first day of my new teaching position, my first set of student loans were about to begin coming due, and I said to my husband that I want to go back to school. Always being fully supportive of my goals, off I went to FHSU to get my Master’s Degree in Gifted Education to serve K-12 Students while starting my first year of teaching.
I quickly learned that FACS and Gifted education have much in common. I had learned in my FACS preparation about higher level thinking, application of content, creating original work, critical thinking and problem solving when “things” don’t turn out as planned, etc. It’s quite amazing how the preparation of my first degree supported a smooth transition to my second degree with no forethought on my part what so ever.
I grew up on a dairy farm in northeast Kansas. Family, hard work, participation in extra-curricular activities at school and 4-H were the foundational elements of my childhood. The core values that I learned that stick with me today are:
This town has allowed us to raise our family in a culture of “community”. An example, this weekend my husband smoked ribs for a friend who has cancer and I was busy making cookies for a funeral reception today. My kids grew up going to a small 1A school, but received an education that allowed them to be college and career ready. Both graduated as valedictorian, Governor’s Scholar, National Honors Society members, and participating in numerous extra-curricular activities.
But the most important lessons they learned are not represented in those accomplishments. They learned from their coaches that perseverance reaps rewards. They learned from their teachers that the first draft is not your final paper, and that persistence is a vital part of being successful in life. They learned from their family that it all starts at home. Say please and thank you. Offer your arm to the elderly lady as you walk into church. And after church, Sunday is family day. There is never a time to lie. Make a difference in someone’s life every day.
"Life is what we make it, always has been and always will be!"
My entire life I have been passionate about learning! I want to grow and learn and move quickly each and every day….even if that means I make mistakes (many of them) along the way. I believe we need to squeeze every ounce of what we can out of this life and positively impact people….students, parents, board members, teachers, administrators and others. Anyone with whom we come in contact should remember us when we walk away.
"If you want to feel secure, do what you already know how to do…
(Photo: by TumblingRun on Flickr “Leaving the Farm”)
Kelly's insights on classroom observation, education, leadership, teaching, and mentoring.