Loudoun County names Meghan Kelly (’19, ‘20M) New Elementary Teacher of the Year

College of Education

SUMMARY: Loudoun County, VA has named first-grade teacher at Guilford Elementary School, Meghan Kelly (’19, ‘20M) "New Elementary Teacher of the Year."

It has been an interesting year to be a first-year teacher, but Meghan Kelly has done an outstanding job of it at Guilford Elementary School in Sterling, Virginia. Not only have her first-graders been learning how to read, write and do math; they have had to learn how to navigate an online learning management system, pivot back and forth between in-person learning and online learning at home, and do more independent work than first graders are typically asked to do.

Kelly says she has always known that teaching would require flexibility, she just didn’t expect to need so much her first year. In her Education classes at James Madison, professor Eric Imbrescia pushed her to really think about what students are capable of doing. Kids of all levels and abilities can be challenged. Even in a Title 1 school with a large population of English Language Learners, Kelly says her students have impressed her with what they have been able to accomplish this year.

The keys to this year have been grace and flexibility. “You have to decide what is in your control and what is not. And you have to be flexible about it. Give yourself grace and be proud of what you are doing,” Kelly says.

Social Media has given Kelly an easy way to stay in touch with former classmates who are now teaching in various school systems across the state. They have shared ideas about what works and what does not. A friend in Virginia Beach resumed in-person classes before she did and gave her the details of what she might expect in her own classroom. Kelly in turn passed her wisdom along to other friends as they were coming back to the classroom.

These relationships have been essential to Kelly’s teaching career so far. She advises prospective teachers to take every opportunity to foster relationships with others. Everything in her classroom, she says, is from someone else: an idea she got in professional development, a poster she noticed in another classroom, lesson plans from her teammates. “Everything that is happening in this classroom, I got from another teacher. You don’t have to create everything yourself.”

When she is not creating fun educational videos to share with her first graders, Kelly enjoys reading. She says her goal of reading 50 books this year is a good way to relax after a busy day. She also enjoys getting together with friends and being crafty.

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Published: Thursday, April 1, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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