May 23, 2012 - Being proclaimed 'Teacher of the Year' is quite a significant honor for any educator, but it's especially meaningful when it's achieved on a national scale.
Megan Kellie is ‘Teacher of the Year’ at The Goddard School. (click for larger version)
Just ask Megan Kellie.
The 27-year-old preschool teacher at The Goddard School (55 Gateway Dr.) in Oxford Township recently earned the title from amongst more than 8,000 Goddard teachers in 35 states.
"It's nice to be recognized," she said. "I work really hard and try to do the best I can for my kids. (This award) inspires me and makes me want to work even harder and do more."
The Goddard School is a private institution that offers preschool and kindergarten classes for children ranging in age from six weeks to six years. More than 45,000 students are enrolled in Goddard schools.
Kellie was one of four Goddard teachers from amongst 380-plus schools rewarded for initiating projects that benefit their classroom, school and/or community on an ongoing basis.
She had "no idea" that she'd won.
"They did it all in secret," she said. "They e-mailed all my parents and nobody told me anything. I'm shocked. If you had told my 3-year-old students, there's no way it would have been kept a secret."
She received the award during what she thought was a routine fire drill. She went outside and was presented with flowers, balloons and a lovely plaque.
"I had no idea what was happening," Kellie said. "I was shocked. I was really excited and honored."
"We couldn't be more excited for Megan," said Michelle Stuhlreyer, owner of the Goddard School in Oxford. "She is an extremely dedicated, well-rounded teacher who displays (a) great disposition with both the children and their parents. She has made a profound impact on each child. We couldn't be more proud of her."
The main reason Kellie won this award was the Buddy Program she created at the school. It pairs each 3-year-old student in her class with a kindergartner. Together, they participate in various activities such as art projects, reading stories, snack time, picnics, etc. The older children receive the opportunity to be positive role models, while the younger kids gain confidence from the example set by the kindergartners.
"My 3-year-olds look forward to it," said Kellie, who graduated from Lapeer East High School in 2003. "They think it's so exciting to go see the big kids in the big kid room."
The kindergartners love it, too, because it makes them feel "proud" and "smart" to "teach someone else."
"It's been a neat little program," Kellie said.
Kellie's been teaching at Oxford's Goddard School since it opened more than two-and-a-half years ago.
"I've been here since Day One," she said.
Everyday, Kellie, who lives in Lapeer, teaches a class consisting of up to 20 students, mainly 3-year-olds.
"It gets crazy, but it's actually the perfect age for me – I love it. I love that age," she said. "I love how excited they get. I love their innocence. I love that they can still find me funny and I can keep them entertained.
"When they get older, it's a little more difficult. There's a lot of other different factors that come into play. (But at age 3) they're excited to be there and excited to learn. Everything is new. There's something very special about being with that age."
When asked why she decided to become an educator, Kellie replied, "It's the only (career path) that made sense for me."
Prior to the Goddard School, Kellie was a student teacher in the Davison and Carman-Ainsworth school districts. She received her degree in elementary education from Saginaw Valley State University in 2008.
"I think I'm made to be a teacher," she said. "I love kids. I actually prefer spending time with children to adults in some ways. I have a knack with them. I know how to make them laugh. I know how to get them excited (about learning).
"There was no other option for me – teaching is exactly where I belong."
For Kellie, the most rewarding part of her job is the relationships she's developed with her students.
"My kids know me really well," she said.
In turn, she knows "they like being here."
"They go home everyday, talking about school and telling their parents what they've learned," Kellie said. "They take the excitement we have at school and bring it home with them. I love hearing that."
For more information about The Goddard School, please visit www.goddardschool.com.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.