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Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of articles introducing the Waverly-Shell Rock community to its newest teachers. Today, we meet Kacy Lee, a third-grade teacher at Margaretta Carey Elementary.

1. Tell us about your background?

Lee: I was born and raised in Iowa. I spent most of my childhood in Newton, where I attended school K-12.

After high school, I went to the University of Northern Iowa for college and graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and also got a literacy minor.

After graduating, I got married and I moved to Shell Rock with my husband, Cayde Lee. When I am not teaching, you can usually find me walking my dogs, Remmi and Spencer, fishing, or boating on the river.

2. In what area do you teach?

Lee: I started my teaching career in Waterloo. I taught kindergarten in Waterloo at Irving Elementary for two years. This school year, I will be teaching third grade at Margaretta Carey Elementary.

3. What is your favorite part of teaching?

Lee: My favorite part of teaching is the students. I love interacting with students. I love teaching them new skills and concepts that they didn’t know before. It’s a wonderful feeling when students find the connection between what they are learning and real life. What is even better is when they can teach me new things. These kids are so bright and knowledgeable. They always keep me on my toes.

4. What attracted you to W-SR schools?

Lee: I grew up in a town that is similar in size to Waverly. I always liked a smaller sized school district because it gave me the chance to make great connections with my teachers. I want to be able to make those connections with the students here in Waverly just like I did when I was younger with my own teachers.

I learned about W-SR schools my freshman year of college. I had a roommate who graduated from W-SR schools and she told me that she knew I would fall in love with the schools if I visited them. I remember my roommate took me on a walk through her high school one day and she was right. I got to meet a few of the WSR teachers. They greeted me and made me feel at home. Since freshman year of college I knew that working at W-SR Schools would be my goal.

5. What are you most excited about for the 2020-21 academic year?

Lee: The main thing that I am most excited about for the 2020-21 academic year is getting to know my students and their families. I think now more than ever it is important to be there for the families and let them know that I am here for them and their academic needs no matter what that looks like. I am ready to use this year as an opportunity to learn more about technology and online learning.

6. Who or what inspired you to become a teacher?

Lee: I was inspired to be a teacher by both my mom and my dad. My mom is a high school teacher and my dad is a sixth-grade teacher in Newton. They were both my teachers while I was growing up. I had my dad as a sixth-grade teacher and I had my mom for business classes and DECA in high school. I was able to see some behind-the-scenes work of being a teacher and I got to help them with their classroom set ups.

I think their attitude and commitment towards teaching and their community is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a teacher most. They became a large part of the community by being teachers just because they come in contact with so many families in the town and make those personal connections.

7. What is your teaching philosophy?

Lee: I believe that the classroom is a community that the principal, school staff, teachers, students, and families all contribute to in order to create a positive learning experience and atmosphere. I believe that we never stop learning and that learning takes place in many different forms and settings. My goal is to encourage students to be lifelong learners and for them to know that they can be whatever they want to be, as long as they work hard enough for it.

8. Have you set up your room? If so or even if not, what are your plans for your room?

Lee: I have been working on setting up my classroom. At this time, I have spaced out the students desks as much as possible. I am doing my best to keep a welcoming environment by adding colorful bulletin boards and displaying many different quotes about being kind to one another. I have removed all flexible seating for the time being to try to keep students as safe as possible. I am hoping to be able to bring back my flexible seating soon.

9. Students have been out of school for quite some time now, how do you plan to help students readjust or re-focus their attention to classroom/in-person learning? Along with that, have you created a plan to help your students with their mental and physical health?

Lee: Although students have been out of school for quite a while, I think that students are prepared and excited to get back to a classroom or in person learning. I plan on spending the first week of school revisiting school rules and policies as well as introducing the new routines that will be put in place such as hand washing, face masks, and social distancing. Students will quickly learn that the in-person learning will look different than what they are used to, but I am sure the students will be able to adapt to the routines very quickly. Kids are very flexible and willing to learn new things.

For students’ mental and physical health I plan on doing many read alouds to help students learn how to keep themselves safe and healthy. I believe the saying that knowledge is power and the more that students know about keeping themselves healthy the better. The students physical and mental health is a priority and we are doing all that we can to ensure a safe environment for the students and staff.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Lee: I am so excited to be a W-SR Go-Hawk and I can not wait to meet my students and their families. Working for WSR school has been a long term goal for me and I am happy to finally be here.