For the Love 
Of the Students

Sunday, April 05, 2015
Croydon — When the bell at the top of the Croydon Village School rings, Kelly George’s 10 first- and second-graders know it’s time for classes to start.

It’s a stark difference from the elementary school that George taught at in Chicago for 61/2 years, where her 30-plus kindergartners were seldom allowed to play outside.

“It seems so far removed from where I am now,” George said.

Since arriving at the school three years ago, George has been embraced by the K-4 school, which has 31 students.

“It’s a very welcoming atmosphere here,” she said. “You just get to really know the kids and their families really well. It almost sometimes feels like more of a family than a classroom.”

In Chicago, the resources were limited. Outside factors, like gang violence, put additional pressure on teachers and George did not always meet each child’s parents.

“We couldn’t even take the kids out to recess,” George remembered “It was hard to be in an environment where the kids weren’t able to have a childhood like they do here.

“It was emotionally taxing.”

George’s students in Croydon don’t face those issues, and she’s been able to get to know her students better.

“I know their likes and dislikes, the makeup of their families,” she said. “I really get to know their personalities and their individual interests in a more solidified level. … I know what makes them tick.”

Originally from central New York, George began her teaching career in Chicago before her husband’s job brought them to the Upper Valley. She lives in Newport with her husband and 3-year-old son. After a couple of substitute teaching gigs, George started a long-term subbing job at Croydon in March 2012 and has been at the school ever since. Prior to coming to Croydon, George had not taught combined grades before.

“It was (a challenge) at first because I wasn’t used to it,” George said. But as she became more seasoned, she learned “it has more advantages than disadvantages.”

George’s six second-graders mentor her four first-graders. The older children guide the younger ones in classroom routines.

“It’s also nice to challenge the younger kids who are more academically inclined,” she said. “They can join right in with what the older group is doing.”

This gives George the ability to enhance the curriculum to meet each child’s needs, something she wasn’t able to do in Chicago.

“I know how to hook and motivate them,” she said.

George loves teaching some of Croydon’s youngest residents and seeing the progress they make from year to year.

“The amount that they grow in a year is so amazing. It’s very validating to see,” George said. “And their enthusiasm and love for school is so apparent at this age. It’s nice to foster that. I love being around that.”

An added benefit?

“They’re so cute, too.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com.