Grade 1 Teacher Kelly Gary

Years at the Academy: 19

Degrees: B.S., Baldwin-Wallace College; M.A., Duquesne University

What do you love about teaching at SA?

I love getting to know my students and working closely with their families. Because we have small class sizes, I have the opportunity to get to know my students well including their strengths and areas they can work on. I love seeing them as they progress from grade to grade and having them visit me when they are passing through the Lower School, even after they graduate.

What do you most want a child to take away from having known you?

I want them to LOVE learning and realize that having fun while learning is contagious! First grade is such an amazing year. I want them to know that I care about them and look forward to seeing them grow academically as well as socially.

What experiences or people had the most influence on you?

I had a great student teaching experience. I learned so much as a mentee of Mrs. Donasi, a third-grade teacher at Spruce Elementary in North Olmsted, Ohio. She helped me grow into a creative and confident teacher by inspiring me to try new things, strategies, and activities, and to always think outside the box.

How do you get the results you want each student to achieve?

Creating a nurturing and challenging environment is very important. My students are not allowed to say “I can’t do it.” I scaffold them along the way to help them gain confidence with things that are new to them. When I make a mistake, I let them know I did. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s what we do afterwards that makes the difference.

How do you inspire your students to love learning?

“If a child does not learn the way I teach, then I must teach the way he/she learns.” This is a quote I have hanging in my room. All children learn in different ways and at their own pace. By building their confidence and giving them various tools to help them learn, I create a safe environment where they can love learning. My students see the whole picture and understand how what we learned in September is connected to what we are learning later in the year. They love making these connections.

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Sewickley Academy is a nationally recognized Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in Pre-K through Grade 12 on a single campus.