According to Eclectic Elementary School kindergarten teacher Jeannie Kelly, her path to teaching began in college.
“I worked in daycare and as a lifeguard during that time,” Kelly said. “I realized just love children.”
While reading, writing and math are the primary foundations taught in kindergarten, Kelly said the most satisfying part of her job is watching those 5- and 6-year-olds learn the basics.
“It just does not have to be the big things in kindergarten,” Kelly said. “The little moments. The first words. To tie your shoes. Some of them come in here and are just learning to write their name. As an adult you might forget that is a big deal. Well, it is.”
She said it is a wonderful experience to welcome a new class, typically consisting of 20 students, every year because the students come to her class with different levels of learning.
“In kindergarten, one of the challenges is the range of how the students come in,” she said. “I have some ready to learn and read. Some, I’m working with them to write their names. There is a big range when they walk in the door.”
Kelly said one of the activities she and her students enjoy most is reading.
“I love stories,” she said. “They enjoy just being read to. You can bring stories to life.”
When asked to pick some of her favorite books, she could not narrow down the list.
“There are just so many,” Kelly said. “There are so many books and so many series of books. My kids really enjoy the series like ‘No David’ and ‘There Was an Old Lady.’”
However, she said any book written for this age group can be brought to life through reading it out loud to the class and discussing it with the class.
“The theme books draw the kids in because the students are familiar with the characters,” Kelly said.As for Kelly’s journey to EES, it took an out-of-state move for her to end up in Eclectic.
“I taught in Millbrook for 12 years then we moved out of the state,” she said. “When we came back I was a full-time substitute here in second grade.”
Kelly is in her seventh year teaching at EES. She views her co-workers as family.
“All of us are here for the children,” she said. “We are one big family working together for the children. We want to see them learn and grow and be the best they can be. It’s a community. It goes up to the middle school and the high school.”
According to Kelly, the family is growing. The school added a sixth kindergarten teacher this school year.
As for the future, Kelly has no intentions of moving out of kindergarten.
“This is my love and my passion,” she said. “I’m right here. I want to be with the children. You’ll see them graduate and it’s heartwarming. Being in a community, you see them grow up.”