Henrico’s Top Teachers – Connie Kelly
Seven Pines E.S., kindergarten
You might say that education is in Connie Kelly's blood. If she needed to talk to the principal of her elementary school in Illinois, she could do so over dinner each night – he was her father. Her mother also was a teacher.
So perhaps it was no surprise when, after having children, returned to finish her college education and begin her own teaching career in her mid-30s.
"I've been loving it ever since," she said. "I wouldn't do anything else."
Kelly started with five years as a teacher in Richmond and has spent the past nine years teaching kindergarten at Seven Pines Elementary in Sandston. Kindergartners, she said, are the perfect fit for her.
"I like their enthusiasm for school," she said. "They are bubbly when they come in, they're so excited to learn. They're like little sponges – I love to see the little lightbulbs come on. It's a wonderful age where they're exploring their environment, they're learning new things, learning how to get along with others."
Kelly's patience and thoroughness with her students stands out to parents.
"She is more than a teacher – she is amazing!" one nominator wrote. "She is everything you would want in a teacher or in any person you trust your most valuables to. Kindergarten isn't always an easy step for children but she made such a bond with my son that he was always so eager to go to school."
Much has changed in the expectations place on kindergartners in the decade-plus since Kelly began teaching.
"When I first started, if you taught letters and sounds, and how to put them together, you'd call it a good year," she said. "Now most of the children are reading by the end of kindergarten. They're adding and subtracting, things they used to do by end of first grade.
"When I give them a book and they actually read it, they look at me with a big smile on their face like, 'I'm reading this book!' I think that's the 'ah-ha' moment for me."
Kelly's class utilizes interactive Promethean boards and iPads and computers virtually every day, and she engages students through a number of creative exercises, too.
"They pick it up so easily, they really do," Kelly said of her students' technology acumen. "I think they pick it up easier than I did. We also do a lot of dancing, singing, playing games. You can learn in lots of different ways."
The diversity at Seven Pines across ethnic and socioeconomic groups is something Kelly appreciates and one reason she's enjoyed her time at the school so much. She's also grateful that she has the chance to watch her former students grow as they progress through school. Many stop in to say hello once they've advanced to higher grade levels.
"Mrs. Kelly is the first real teacher my son had, and the way she mentored him and cared for him gave him a path to what is to be expected from other teachers in the future," another nominator wrote. "Her continued contact with the parent really made me feel like my son and I really meant something to her."
Citizen Staff Reports 12/16/2013
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In Varina, one of the most anticipated events of the season is approaching. The 19th Annual Big Toy Parade will return on Dec 14, offering a “homey,” small-town feel that helps elicit holiday spirit among participants and spectators alike.
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Citizen Staff Reports 12/03/2013
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It’s the final weekend before Christmas – but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare! Relax with half-a-million twinkling lights, enjoy Theatre IV on Tour’s production of “A Christmas Carol” or experience the 11th annual “Miracle of Christmas – Live at the Metro Richmond Zoo.” Another way to relax before the Big Day is with a good book. You can find a vast array of books, covering many genres, and meet authors at the Celebrate with a Book event on Saturday. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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