Kelsey Scully, MAT ’20, Receives Prestigious Teaching Fellowship
Kelsey Scully, secondary science MAT ’20, is one of this year’s 31 recipients of the prestigious Knowles Teaching Fellowship. Described as “an intensive and cohesive, five-year program that supports early-career, high school mathematics and science teachers in their efforts to develop teaching expertise and lead from the classroom,” the Knowles Fellowship recognizes that learning to teach is a blend of time, sustained effort, and ongoing support. Fellows who are selected to join this nationwide network receive grants to fund classroom materials and professional development; mentorship and a place in a network of over 400 teachers who are committed to improving education; and access to consistent coaching with frequent check-ins to discuss instruction or professional dilemmas.
Scully is the second alumna of Lewis & Clark’s secondary teacher education program to be named as a Knowles fellow, and her department could not be more thrilled.
“I am incredibly excited and proud that another one of our alums has been recognized with this honor, says Liza Finkel, secondary MAT program director and teacher education faculty member. “With only 31 fellows chosen in the US this year, it demonstrates the strengths of our program and the quality of our science teaching graduates.”
When asked why she feels Scully was selected, Finkel had glowing remarks.
“Kelsey is a caring, knowledgeable, and tenacious science teacher. The Knowles Fellowship application process is a long one, including written essays, detailed professional recommendations, and two interviews. Kelsey’s win shows her skills at representing her practice in all of those contexts, and also the confidence her mentors and colleagues have in her promise as an early career science teacher.”
Scully’s journey as an educator began at the peak of the pandemic, and she admits that came with its challenges.
“The black screens were brutal,” she explains, describing a Zoom-room with all the students’ cameras turned off. “I wanted to be a teacher because I enjoy working with kids. The black boxes were hard to accept at the beginning.”
Scully persevered, working hard to find creative ways to facilitate a collaborative and energetic virtual classroom. Leveraging the technology available through her school, Scully had her students work together using group slides, brainstorm on jamboard, and utilize group roles that reflected ways to participate on Zoom (i.e., screen sharer).
“To get to know each other, we did scavenger hunts, created memes, shared videos, and talked before and after class about our quarantine activities,” Scully recalls. “I tried to utilize as much class time as possible for students to talk, even at the cost of content if they were connecting with each other.”
Ultimately her efforts paid off, and when her students returned to a hybrid learning environment to engage in person for the first time that year, Scully says she was shocked at how comfortable the students were on the “first day” of school.
“Even though I didn’t feel like I knew my students very well, they felt very comfortable with me because of how much I told stories about myself on Zoom.”
Scully is currently planning for a year of in-person teaching, and says she is looking forward to teaching her classes over again with a more experienced mindset, and correcting some mistakes she feels she made along the way as a first-year teacher.
“I know more about where students are going to struggle, and I’ve had time to think about how to better help them,” says Scully. “And I am excited to see them all at the same time in person! I hope this can be done safely by the fall, but it will be really nice to not have to split my attention between those on Zoom and those in the classroom.”
As a newly minted Knowles fellow, Scully is also looking forward to collaborating with equity-minded teachers across the country who are also ready to make big changes in their teaching.
“The virtual learning this year really limited labs and projects. One of the primary ways in which I plan to use my fellowship resources is to generate ideas for how to make labs more challenging/student centered and to try project based learning in my curriculum.”
Reflecting on the past year, Scully muses that while it was certainly quite challenging, she did feel that her MAT program at Lewis & Clark prepared her well to meet those challenges and that she “had more tools in [her] back pocket and adapted to new situations faster than other teachers who felt like this was their first year teaching all over again.”
Finkel recalls that when Scully was still a student teacher and all the public schools moved online in spring 2020, “Kelsey quickly stepped forward and became a resource for her colleagues, sharing her burgeoning knowledge of instructional technology with the science department.”
While the much anticipated return to in-person learning will allow students and teachers to again connect in traditional classroom environments, Scully doesn’t plan to abandon her pandemic-era toolkit just yet.
“This year, I called families more often than I ever thought I would. Students really appreciated when I would call home to check in, and in return, I had students engage in my classes when they refused to engage in others. I will also definitely continue to have online options for students to utilize if they prefer to learn that way. For example, I used paper notebooks pre-pandemic. After this year, I will let students keep a digital document of their work if it helps them stay more organized.”
And for anyone who is considering becoming a teacher: “It is a lot of work, but it is worth the trials and errors if you are excited about the potential outcomes! You also have to enjoy working with kids AND adults because having good relationships with students’ families, other teachers and staff will lead to more student success.”
For now, Scully plans to enjoy the rest of her summer “reading, floating the river, and trying to take [her] cat for walks.”
Lewis & Clark’s programs for educators prepare you to work in diverse school settings and with all children—including those from different cultural, linguistic, and economic backgrounds, and those who have special needs. Teachers learn to investigate and support each child’s unique growth—academic, social, and emotional—as citizens of the world. Here, extensive content preparation and research-based models form the basis of a rich intellectual experience and ensure your success beyond the classroom.
More information is available on our Teacher Education program page.