On Nov. 7, Kansas Wesleyan will welcome a group of potential teachers for its Teacher Education Day. Most students in the program are able to obtain full-time teaching contracts prior to graduation, and many opt to stay in Salina and the surrounding area because of the relationships built during early field experiences. One example is Kelsey Plummer ’17, who is currently a kindergarten teacher at Cottonwood Elementary in Salina.
“I have always been motivated by the idea that teaching creates all other professions,” said Plummer, who was also a volleyball standout during her time at KWU, where her efforts earned her Mention All-American by two different organizations. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Engineers make bridges, artists make paintings and scientists make rockets, but teachers make them all.’ I believe teaching is a powerful profession with an incredible responsibility, and I’ve always wanted to take it on.”
Plummer was offered a position when Cottonwood’s principal reached out to her following her junior year, spurred by her previous field experience in the building. She accepted a full-time role with Cottonwood following her December graduation.
“Kelsey showed dramatic growth between her first field experience to her final semester, and we knew she would succeed in the classroom,” said Dr. Kristy Rodriguez, Plummer’s advisor and chair of the KWU Teacher Education Department. “We knew she would be an exceptional teacher due to the poise and confidence she showed throughout her work, along with her ability to understand all of the social and emotional difficulties that students can face on a regular basis.”
“Kelsey is an outstanding teacher who builds very strong relationships with both students and parents,” offered Kyle Griffitts, principal at Cottonwood Elementary. “You would be amazed at the calmness of her classroom and the pure joy exhibited by both her and her students. The students know they are loved in Kelsey’s classroom, and she has the ability to get the most out of them. She was the Horizon Award winner for Salina and is a candidate for the state award in early 2020, which recognizes representatives of excellent teaching at the elementary and secondary level.”
It hasn’t all come easily for Plummer, however, as during her first full year, she faced a group of students with widely varying needs, both behavioral and academic. “I was placed in a role that gave me the challenge of meeting a wide range of student needs in a single environment,” Plummer offered. “The example my teachers set for me at KWU—going above and beyond to advocate for their students—helped me to do the same in my situation, because they taught me the importance of relationships between teacher and student. This first year was a long one, but my students and I all grew a great deal.”
As a crop of potential new teachers explores KWU’s opportunities this week, Plummer offers words of wisdom to those considering the field.
“I truly believe you receive a one-of-a-kind education at KWU. The professors—especially in the education department—take a personal interest in each of their students, and do everything in their power to help them succeed.”
Perhaps, among the group of students coming to campus Nov. 7, there will be more Kelsey Plummers, future teachers who will help mold the young minds of tomorrow.