Teacher of the Year, Northside’s Sanders makes learning fun
First-grade teacher Kelle Sanders says her husband, Brandon, often tells her that he wishes he loved his job as much as she loves hers. Sanders says she loves teaching younger kids because they get her. They respond to her teaching style. So they learn to count money while singing: “Hey, Honey Bunny! I Know My Money, Money!” “I’m very animated,” says Sanders of her teaching style, before demonstrating to a visitor how she connects with students when teaching math vocabulary. “Part, part AND THEN THE WHOOOOLE,” she says. Sanders began her fifth year at Northside Elementary School in August, but the year prior was a long-term substitute there after being a sub at every elementary school in the district during the 2013-14 school year. “Something about Northside made me feel like this was family for me,” says Sanders. “When I walked in the door, I just felt this feeling: I like this place, I like the people that work here. I like the feel of this school.” So being named Northside Elementary’s 2018-19 Teacher of the Year by her colleagues was an honor because they see and appreciate how much time and effort she puts into teaching. But she says, “I don’t do the things that I do to get recognized. “… I do it because I love my job.” Sanders and husband Brandon, a Woodford County native, live here, but she was born and raised in the California Bay Area. Sanders began her teaching career in 2007. She didn’t take a traditional route into the classroom, though she says she’s always loved children and been around them her whole life. She started babysitting – a teacher’s three sons – at age 12, was a camp counselor at a school and coached volleyball, but never thought about becoming a teacher. After earning a degree in business management, Sanders says she was a nanny for twin brothers. Their mother managed an after-school program at The Harker School, where Sanders had been a student. Becoming an assistant manager for the after-school program piqued her curiosity about teaching. “I kept wanting to know what was going on in the classroom,” she remembers. So Sanders returned to college, earned her teaching credentials and then her master’s degree because she wanted to teach and be that person who gets to help students experience that “aha” moment. “To watch it happen is the greatest joy,” says Sanders. “I love being around kids. When I’m here, this is just my four walls. There are no other worries for me. This is it. This is my heart. I love this. I love what I do.” She knows students learn best when they’re having fun and want to come to her classroom. And Sanders says she wants her first graders to learn more than academics because they need to gain an understanding of work ethic and how to work alongside others successfully. It’s also important to know what makes every student special – whether it’s being involved in gymnastics or Irish dancing or sports, she explains.