#PeopleofSTEAM: Meet Kelli
Kelli, a member of the 2023 Inspire the Future: FIRST® Educators Recognition Program cohort, is an Instructional Technology Facilitator at Boone Trail Elementary School in North Carolina. She serves 550 students each day by managing all the technology in the building and offers instructional support for her colleagues. In addition, she also teaches STEAM classes to the students where she focuses on bringing in hands-on and engaging learning and folds in FIRST® Core Values like Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition®.
“Catching sight of my students working through problems they think will defeat them and excel at those tasks is one of the greatest parts of my day,” explained Kelli.
Read more below about Kelli and her experience as a STEAM educator.
FIRST Staff: How do you use STEAM skills in your everyday work/life?
Kelli: I use STEAM skills throughout my everyday work and life as an educator, wife, and mother. STEAM is so much more than science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. STEAM requires communication, collaboration, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, all of which I use each day. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, and other basic life skills all require us to think of solutions and problem solve. FIRST Core Values - discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork, and fun - are great examples of how I use STEAM skills in my everyday life.
FIRST Staff: Can you share your thoughts on the impact of your personal/professional work in STEAM?
Kelli: I strive to bring my students STEAM learning that prepares them for the future of STEAM through real-world experiences. I work through the lessons I teach along with my students to show them the importance of being a lifelong learner.
FIRST Staff: What is the hardest part of your job?
Kelli: The hardest part of my job is helping others comprehend the dedication needed to have a quality STEAM program for students. While STEAM lessons can be simple, they require planning, preparation, background knowledge, real world connections, materials, space, hands-on learning, and buy-in from teachers, students, and parents.
FIRST Staff: Who is a “Person of STEAM” who inspires you?
Kelli: My students are my biggest inspiration. Teaching students is my passion. I teach my students to set and surpass goals to be the best they can be.
FIRST Staff: If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Kelli: If I could give one piece of advice to my younger self, it would be to believe that your impact matters. You never truly know the impact you have on students until they have moved on and you see them later in life and they come up to you and let you know they remember all the moments. They remember the relationships and the way you make them feel. One of my favorite quotes is “do it with passion or not at all.” If you lead with passion, obstacles and challenges don't seem so big. Our passion helps give us the strength to overcome any obstacle or challenge.
FIRST Staff: Do you have a message you want to share for students who are participating in FIRST today?
Kelli: I want students who are participating in FIRST today to know that it is never too early to start working towards your dreams. What you do today matters. It is okay to make mistakes. Making mistakes is how we excel to the next level.
Are you a person of STEAM? Share your story with #PeopleofSTEAM on social media or send us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.