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Kelly in some ways didn't have a choice about becoming a teacher. "When my mother (a former reading teacher and current principal herself) began kindergarten in Allagash, Maine, her grandmother was the teacher, her mother the principal, and two aunts taught other grades in the school. Although I briefly flirted in college with becoming a chemist, by my sophomore year I knew that I would take up the family teaching torch, and I've never regretted that choice."
Kelly received her M.Ed. degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education and her Ed.D. in literacy education from the University of Maine. She is currently an associate professor and director of English Education, Reading and Language Arts at Syracuse University and she teaches courses in content literacy, English methods, and literacy and technology. Previously, she was an English and social studies teacher at Noble High School in Berwick, Maine.
From her experiences as a secondary English teacher, she knows what teachers like and don't like when it comes to professional development. "I try to build agendas for professional development that build from participants' prior knowledge but that also include content that is likely to be new: a cutting-edge research study, an intriguing theoretical lens, a teaching approach that goes against conventional wisdom but works for a particular population. Since it's hard to know what's 'new' with a population I see once, for a short term, I agree to longer-term commitments with a building or group of teachers whenever I can."
When Kelly is writing a book, she might be a little bit of a procrastinator, but she has a system that works for her. "I always begin by making an outline and then setting up separate computer files for each chapter. As I generate ideas or come across quotations for an individual chapter, even if it's not the one I am actively working on, I open up the file and put them there for later. I am notoriously bad about sticking to one task; if the going gets rough with one chapter, I'll open up another and make notes, work on the references, read another secondary source I might want to cite."
Kelly is married and has two children, Lucy and Quinn. She likes to read, garden, and hike and follows the New York Yankees.