Kelly has been teaching upper elementary education in the San Diego Unified School District for over a decade. She has a passion for gifted and talented education, as well as culturally responsive teaching. As the Lead GATE Teacher at her current site, she has made it a priority to establish ongoing communication with GATE families, developing a community of high performing scholars that challenges, engages, and nurtures their thirst for knowledge. Kelly is also the Teacher Liaison for the SDUSD GATE District Advisory Committee where she has presented on topics such as The GATE Students and Multi-Tiered System of Supports, as well as participated in special committees focused in GATE advocacy and instruction. She has also helped to establish a community outreach program with the Islamic Center of San Diego, presenting about The Importance of Culturally Responsive Teaching to the parent community, establishing youth group readings with multi-cultural book exploration, and creating video Read Along’s during Ramadan throughout the Covid-19 school closures. Kelly is currently the SDUSD Elementary Teacher of the Year for 2020 and recipient of the California Teacher Grant 2020 through California Credit Union, with plans to begin a student-led broadcasting team at her school site.
“It is our choices (Harry,) that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” – J.K. Rowling
Why did you choose to earn your MEd degree at USD?
After beginning my career as an elementary teacher within SDUSD, I waited for around seven years to pursue a Master’s degree in Education, holding out specifically for a degree with a STEAM focus. I was beyond thrilled to discover that USD had begun to offer such a degree via an online program, allowing me to continue being an involved member of my school community, while also teaching full time and pursuing a higher level education. It was the perfect fit for me.
What was your favorite part of the MEd online program?
My favorite element of the USD Online program was the course content. I found that each course was beneficial to my teaching practice, allowing me to grow as an educator in ways that were complementary and applicable to my classroom. Not only did I learn how to incorporate the latest academic research into my teaching and data collection, but it also helped to train me on the latest science standards before they had been completely implemented.
In what ways has the USD MEd online degree program influenced your work as an educator?
I can honestly say that this program strengthened my teaching and helped me learn how to meet the needs of my students, while also supporting my fellow educators at my school site. I have been able to implement the varying levels of data collection across subject areas, grade levels, and even beyond my own classroom. I have grown in confidence, branching out into leadership roles at my school, in my neighboring community, and my district. This program inspired me to write grants for broadcasting technology, build partnerships with university outreach programs for my students, and mentor new teachers who are beginning their careers in education.
What advice do you have for students considering USD’s MEd online degree program?
For someone considering this particular program, my recommendation would be to remember to schedule your time accordingly and look at the entire syllabus the moment you have access to it. I was able to balance multiple jobs, school committees, my family, and the coursework due to maintaining a very rigorous schedule. Each syllabus gave me the ability to plan ahead, schedule pockets of time for readings and projects, as well as get in that very important self-care time. Managing this program and the time it requires to succeed can be perceived as challenging, but all it really requires is careful planning, a little self-motivation, and the determination to finish to the best of your ability.
What are the top qualities about the USD MEd online degree program that you think really stand out and lead you to recommend it to others?
I would, and have, recommended this program to several friends, primarily because of the positive experiences that I had throughout the program. There wasn’t a single aspect of it that felt like busy work, and I can still see the impact that the courses had not only on my teaching, but on the educators I was able to train through my Action Research project as well. Years later, I am still benefiting from the level of rigor this program offered and I know it has helped to evolve my talents, skills, and teacher leadership into something truly special.