Class of 2012
South Burlington and South Hero, VT
Major: Elementary Education
Favorite weekend activity: Volunteering, hanging out with family
Career Plans: Teach, pursue master's in special education
"I got hands-on teaching experience my first year. I was in a classroom, working with kids, and I observed in classrooms. My sophomore year, I taught three lessons at Johnson Elementary. You are actually working with teachers one-on-one instead of just observing."
Since childhood, Kelly Jackson has wanted to become a teacher.
“All of my teachers in elementary school had a huge impact on me,” she says. “I also grew up with little cousins, and I enjoyed interacting with them. Ever since I was little, kids have adapted to me really fast.”
In high school, Kelly discovered she connected well with students with disabilities. South Burlington High School partnered with Special Olympics to start a unified sports program. Kelly worked with students with disabilities on bowling, snowshoeing and bocce practices and competitions.
When she was researching college teaching programs in Vermont, she was encouraged to look at Johnson State. “I heard that Johnson was an excellent college for teaching,” she says, “and it was small enough that professors would know you.”
She hasn’t been disappointed.
“I got hands-on teaching experience my first year. I was in a classroom, working with kids, and I observed in classrooms,” she says. “My sophomore year, I taught three lessons at Johnson Elementary. You are actually working with teachers one-on-one instead of just observing.”
At JSC, Kelly has continued her work with Special Olympics, winning a Bonner AmeriCorps Education Award for her volunteer work.
“I have volunteered at 40 Special Olympics events in the last six years,” she says.
After leaving Johnson, Kelly plans on continuing to study special education in graduate school while also teaching K-6.
“I know a lot of classrooms where I will be teaching will have special needs students,” she says. “I’ve learned that I have a lot of patience to work with children of all abilities. But I want to know more about special education.”
As a resident assistant, Kelly tapped into her interests in education when developing a reading group for students on her floor. She arranged for Assistant Professor of Education Kathleen Brinegar to visit and discuss her experience working with English language learners (ELL) in conjunction with the 2010 Common Reading book, Outcasts United, about a soccer program for refugee boys resettled in Clarkson, Ga.
In the summer, Kelly continues to connect with children, working at various camps.
“I plan to be at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta for my 21st birthday in July,” she says. “I’d rather be with the kids and celebrate my birthday with them.”