Kelsey Cullinan, ’21, was recognized as Caroline County Middle School Novice Teacher of the Year during a ceremony on April 19, 2023. Kelsey, who teaches seventh grade math, joined the faculty at Caroline Middle School in Virginia in August 2021.
Kelsey had wanted to become a teacher since second grade, she said, and was inspired by one of her elementary school teachers, who also happened to be an NU alum. In high school, she narrowed her focus to teaching math and enrolled at Niagara because of its rigorous program, its Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation accreditation, its field experiences, and the mission of the university.
“The Vincentian charge, and Niagara's infusion of it into the College of Ed, perfectly married academics, professional goals, and spirituality,” she said.
As a student in the college, Kelsey participated in experiences including student teaching, professional seminar, and a class on students with disabilities, experiences she said prepared her for her teaching career. She was also active in several university offices, such as Campus Ministry and Residence Life, and these experiences helped her to build other key competencies, such as conflict resolution, identifying needs, creatively programming and meeting students in crisis where they are, and interpersonal skills. As a student co-director in Admissions, she developed the administrative skills necessary to complete behind-the-scenes duties as a teacher, enhanced her public speaking skills, and had opportunities for leadership.
“I am grateful for the way all departments and personnel invested in the development of us as students,” she said.
Now working in her chosen profession, Kelsey says she loves “the privilege to journey with my students through an academic year, to watch them grow as students and people. Their personalities and lives change so much in one academic year's time, and to come alongside them through that is wonderful."