When Alice F. Kelley was nominated for Teacher of the Year at Summerville High School she was asked to prepare an acceptance speech – “just in case.”
Kelley, feeling all her fellow teachers were very worthy of being named Teacher of the Year, did not bother to prepare a speech, thinking it would probably go to someone else.
Then, as it turned out, she was named Summerville High School’s Teacher of the Year and she did, in fact, have to give a speech.
Not only was Kelley selected as her school’s Teacher of the Year, but she was also one of the district’s five Honor Teachers of the Year, alongside Pren Woods (Alston Middle), Kimberly Freeman (Givhans Alternative Program), Brooke Matthews (Greg Middle) and Priscilla Johnson (Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary).
Once again, despite being in the top five, Kelley did not feel like she needed to prepare an acceptance speech for May 8, when all the district Teachers of the Year – and their families – crowded into the auditorium at Ashley Ridge High School to be recognized for their hard work and dedication to educating children.
Kelley believed one of the district’s other “amazing” teachers was going to earn the title, but her husband finally convinced her to have a speech prepared – once again, “just in case.”
Her husband’s suggestion turned out to be a good one, for it was Kelley’s name that was called, and an emotional Kelley took the podium to thank the school board and tell everybody how humbled she felt to be recognized as DD2’s Teacher of the Year.
“I was in shock – absolute shock,” Kelley said after the event. “It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Initially Kelley followed a career path in social work with a desire to help others. However, it was not until she was afforded the opportunity to become a teacher through the state’s Critical Needs Program, and she found her passion – teaching science. She began as a science teacher at Summerville High School in 2000, “and I never looked back.”
Kelley now teaches 9-12th grade science and engineering, which she has been doing for four years. Last year Kelley took over the engineering program with a goal to increase student enrollment in the program, particularly female students. The program quickly grew from 150 students to 350 and the number of females has increased from eight to 52. In addition, she established the STEM Academy at Summerville High, which has increased student participation in these programs and has engaged business leaders and the community to create a seamless connection between students and their community. Alice has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina, and will receive a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from The Citadel this summer.
In his letter of recommendation for consideration of DD2’s Teacher of the Year, Summerville High Principal Kenneth Farrell wrote that Kelley is “an educator with a powerful thirst to learn,” and that she strives to make her students see that she is on their team and that she is okay with their uniqueness.
“Mrs. Kelley takes a personal interest in the lives of her students, and her passion for her job is evident in her daily interactions with her students,” Farrell wrote. “Perhaps one of Mrs. Kelley’s greatest gifts is the ability to build positive relationships with and for her students.”
Kelley said she loves being able to help kids through her passion for science.
“My students are my inspiration,” she said. “I look forward to seeing them every day. It’s the greatest job on earth.”
Kelley was joined at the ceremony by her family: her husband of 20 years Kevin and their four kids Cooper, 13; Peyton, 11; Logan, 8; and Bennett, 6.
“I am so blessed and honored,” she said. “The teachers in [DD2] are fabulous.”