2016 Blackboard Award Honoree: Kelly Schmidt

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2016 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Kelly Schmidt
St. Stephen of Hungary School

Kelly Schmidt accepts her Blackboard Award. Photo by Karen Haberberg Photography

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as a teacher.

I love being able to wake up every day excited to go to work and excited to instill the love of learning into my students. Kindergarten is so special because it is truly a safe space where young minds can explore, experiment, and grow. Kindergarten is also a time where the kids still really need someone to love them, treasure them, and keep them safe. Sometimes, as adults, we overlook the pain of a small scrape or a missing toy, or even an argument with a friend because we think: “They’re only kids, it’s not a big deal.” But in reality, it is a big deal for them.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

Kelly Schmidt. Photo by Andrew Schwartz

Instead of only one special project or achievement, I believe that I have 22. Those special achievements are my students. Each and every one of them is so incredibly different with a wide range of academic abilities, interests, and family dynamics. I strive to understand what makes each child “tick” and go from there. All of my students are going through something… I want them to understand that I care about what is happening and will do my best to make their life at school as positive as can be.

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

During my third year of teaching I had a little boy, D, who was not really ready to be in Kindergarten. His birthday was the day before the cutoff and he may have still needed a year of naps, free play, and mommy cuddles. I worked so hard to make his day developmentally appropriate while providing him the academics that he would need to be successful… In February D called out: “It’s brown, the Valentine bears are brown!” The whole class started cheering and clapping because that was the first time D correctly identified the color brown.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated and hard-working educator?

I love my students. I love seeing their faces light up when they walk into school and I love seeing them become caring, confident, and empathetic young people… Children are truly our future and if I can help a small number of them become compassionate and well-rounded little people, then I have succeeded.