Class of 2013
South Hero, VT
Major: Liberal Studies
Favorite weekend activity: Volunteering, spending time with family and friends, skiing
Career Plans: Working as a paraeducator or working with a nonprofit organization
"A lot of classrooms where I'll be teaching are certain to have special-needs students, and I've learned that I have the patience to work with children of all abilities, but I want to learn more about special education."
Since childhood, Kelly Jackson has wanted to work with children.
"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. Kids always adapted to me really fast."
In high school, Kelly discovered she connected well with students with disabilities when her school partnered with Special Olympics to start a unified sports program. Kelly helped students with disabilities master bowling, snowshoeing and bocce. She continued her work with the organization through an internship as part of her nonprofit-management course work. She is pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Management in addition to a bachelor's degree in Liberal Studies.
"I learned a lot of different aspects about Special Olympics from my internship there, from working with the staff to helping athletes on and off the field. I also succeeded in getting more school districts involved in Special Olympics, which was a big help to the organization."
Kelly was encouraged to consider Johnson State when she was researching Vermont colleges that offered education majors.
"I heard that Johnson was an excellent college," she says, "and it was small enough that professors would know me."
A passionate volunteer, Kelly has helped with 40 Special Olympics events over the past six years and won a Bonner AmeriCorps Education Award at JSC for her service.
"Giving back to my community and providing opportunities for others to volunteer is very important to me," she says.
In addition to Special Olympics, she's volunteered at Camp Ta Kum Ta, which is for children ages 5 to 18 who are fighting cancer.
After earning her degree at Johnson, Kelly plans to continue studying education while working as a paraeducator or behavior interventionist during the school year and working at camps during the summer. She also has her sights set on a master's degree down the road.
"A lot of classrooms where I'll be teaching are certain to have special-needs students, and I've learned that I have the patience to work with children of all abilities," she says, "but I want to learn more about special education."