It is with great pleasure to announce....
Mrs. Janet Kelly
2017-2018 DLJK8 Teacher of the Year
Janet Renee Kelly graduated from the Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida in December 1990 with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She began her teaching career the following August and she has spent the past 26 years in a variety of classroom settings teaching students in grades 1 through 5. Mrs. Kelly is driven by the idea that teaching is a matter of heart. Guided by the experience that kids often forget the things we say or lessons we teach but they will always remember how you made them feel, she has spent the entirety of her 26-year career striving to make her students feel valued, loved and inspired. She serves not only as a teacher in every sense of the word, but as an advocate and voice for each child in her classroom. In a world that all too often leaves children feeling as if they are overlooked and undervalued, Mrs. Kelly strives to make each child feel they are not only noticed but highly valued for his or her unique gifts.
Mrs. Kelly grew up in a military family as a US ARMY “brat”. Her family lived a transient life following orders and moving every 2 to 3 years. She lived in several different locations around the USA and in Europe before settling in Florida after graduating high school. As a result, she learned how to live, learn, and work with many different groups of people. Her background taught her that every individual has something valuable to offer and to view each person as an individual that is the sum of their actions and not one that the world at large would suggest. It is this ability to see each person’s unique gifts and merits that directs her to see the good in her students and teach them to value and believe in themselves.
Mrs. Kelly’s first teaching position was at Christian Day School at First United Methodist Church in Hollywood, Florida. There she taught grades 2-5 in various mixed grade classrooms settings. She helped to write curriculum for grades 1-5 at the school while serving as the Director of Children’s Ministry for both the school and church. She led the students in the school to develop several community outreach programs as a component of the Social Studies Curriculum including the “Pennies From Heaven” initiative which consisted of the students colleting their pennies and spare change over the course of a year and using the funds for various purposes such as feeding the homeless, adopting a sea turtle, and participating in a Police Sponsored gun buy-back program.
Four years later she began teaching in a first grade classroom for Broward County Public Schools in Hollywood, Florida at Sheridan Park Elementary. She spent 16 years at the same school teaching both first and third grade students. While there, she served as the general education teacher in the school’s “TEAM” program which paired general education teachers with special education teachers and support personnel to provide numerous mainstreaming opportunities for students in the school’s Autistic Education Program. The program placed Mrs. Kelly in the position to teach children of various abilities and gifts while working with professionals in the field of specialized education. It was this experience early in her career that led Mrs. Kelly to fully understand that each child whether “general education” or “specialized education” had the right and need for differentiated education in the classroom. In addition to working in the school’s “TEAM” program she served as a grade chair for her grade level. In that position she worked with a team to disseminate information to members of her department, serve as a mentor teacher, and develop curriculum support for teachers and students alike. She also went on to serve as the school’s School Improvement Team chairperson for five years working to develop strategies and programs to be implemented via the School Improvement Plan with the goal to boost student achievement school wide.
While at Sheridan Park she had three children of her own. She is a mother of two sons ages 19 and 15 and a daughter age 11. It was becoming a mother that had the greatest impact on her teaching. While she always believed that teaching was her calling, it was becoming a mother that helped her to fully understand the impact her presence in the classroom had on children. Over the years her children have had teachers that inspire and lift up and teachers that deflate and tear down. It was in dealing with her own children’s experiences, that she has crafted and refined her own professional attitudes. She realized that while academic successes and various measures for higher student achievement such as state testing were vital, without connection and feeling valued her students are doomed to frustration and failure.