Teaching first grade is something Kelly Snow knows very well.
That’s because the Beaver Creek Elementary educator, who is going into her 25th year with the Johnston Community School District, has always taught first grade.
“I’ve never changed grade levels,” Snow says. “Some people think I’m crazy.”
Yet despite all the years on the job, her enthusiasm hasn’t waned for working with these youngsters. She doesn’t know what profession she’d be in if she wasn’t a teacher.
“I just can’t imagine myself doing something else,” she says.
First grade is a fun, exciting time, with the opportunity to see great progress in students’ development. It’s a year that’s more academic than kindergarten, and local and national expectations of students are becoming more rigorous, according to Snow.
Language arts is Snow’s favorite subject to teach, and there’s a big focus on reading at this grade. Over the course of the year, she’ll see “huge” gains in kids’ reading skills. The students will notice them, too.
“I want them to love reading,” Snow says.
Working with students at this age is another aspect of her job that Snow enjoys.
“You never know what they’re going to say,” she says. “They’re like little sponges — they soak up everything. They’re inquisitive. And some of them are silly.”
School is something Snow’s always enjoyed, and she continues to be a lifelong learner. She has a master’s in education from Viterbo University and takes classes to keep up with what’s new, often implementing what she learns into her classroom.
“The stronger your knowledge and skills, the better we can meet their (students’) needs,” she says.
Snow strives to do that in an environment where it’s safe to take risks, and that is inviting and caring, while providing a strong academic foundation.
Being a risk-taker is the main lesson she’d like students to walk away with from her class.
“I want them to have confidence to try things and not be embarrassed to fail,” she says. “I want them to meet a challenge and stretch themselves to their full potential.”