Educator Spotlight: Kelley always watching for teachable moments


Butterfield Elementary School’s Kathleen Kelley came to Maricopa Unified School District for her first teaching job three years ago. This year she received a Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.

What is your favorite part of being an educator? Watching the “light bulb” go off with a student. I love watching students explore a new concept and then fully understand it!

Why did you choose education as a career? I’ve wanted to teach since I was in kindergarten. My first class was my eight favorite stuffed animals, and I would play teacher and spend hours grading their papers, giving them tests and putting stickers on their work. I chose education because I have always loved children and wanted to make a difference in their lives.

What were your first impressions of MUSD? My first impression was how new the schools were. Butterfield opened in 2008 and has a lot of technology and is a great facility. Back in Rhode Island a lot of the schools are going through renovations to become as updated as MUSD schools are.

What are the biggest challenges facing Maricopa students today? Large class sizes. The teachers are doing as much as they can to support our students.

What was the best advice you received about your own education? My college professors stressed the importance of being a lifelong learner and being a role model for our students. We need to constantly keep up to date on new innovative ways to help reach all the students in our classrooms.  

What has been the highlight of your career so far? It was this year when Butterfield second grade students participated in a footprints to the past experience with community members. The second grade students had a series of questions to ask the volunteers who were aged 55 and older about life when they were younger. It was a neat experience to organize an event where the students learned so much about how things like technology have changed. It was also great because we had so much positive feedback from the volunteers.

What advice do you give parents? Read with your child as much as you can to help them build their imagination. Talk to your child about their dreams and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

What have your students taught you? Flexibility; that just because something is not on the lesson plan does not mean it isn’t important, and that when a teachable moment appears, to seize the opportunity to stray from the plan. My students have taught me that even though I may sing something off key they enjoy learning through music.

***ADVERTISEMENT***Kathleen Kelley
Hometown: Pembroke, Massachusetts
Residence: Maricopa, since 2012
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Salve Regina University (Newport, Rhode Island); currently pursuing master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Grand Canyon University
Family: Boyfriend of five years, parents and siblings reside in Massachusetts
Teaching positions you’ve held: Second grade at Butterfield Elementary School
Years in education: 3
First job out of college: Teacher at Butterfield Elementary School
Hobbies: Traveling, gym, shopping at Treasures for Teachers, DIY home improvement projects
Favorite subject as elementary student: Math and science. I enjoyed the hands-on manipulatives in math and using them to solve problems. I loved conducting different experiments in science and watching what happened.