Engineer turns to teaching math
Midway through a long engineering lecture her senior year at Dartmouth College, Kelly Kennedy had a painful epiphany. While initially drawn to the money and esteem of engineering, she realized her heart just wasn’t in it.
Kennedy graduated with a dual major in engineering and studio art and left college unsure what her next step should be. She fell into private tutoring as a way to pay the bills and found that she loved teaching. She specialized in SAT and ACT prep, and because she could tutor all sections of each exam, she logged thousands of hours and ended up managing learning centers in Boston and California, overseeing their prep curriculum and instruction.
“As a woman in math and science, I was usually discouraged from becoming a teacher. But I fell in love with teaching, and felt that I could affect more students if I went into the classroom,” said Kennedy.
Last fall, she joined Sonoma Valley High School in the math department, teaching algebra. “I really like knowing that my job makes a positive difference in the lives of my students. Public school teachers sometimes get bad press but the teachers I’ve worked with are all passionate and dedicated to their profession.”
Kennedy grew up in Santa Rosa and graduated from Montgomery High School in 2001. She said she was very lucky because, with both of her parents working in education, she got lot of encouragement and support in school.
While she admits to wasting some time her freshman year doodling, she graduated as valedictorian of her class. “My mom and I took a trip back east to look at several of the Ivy League schools after my junior year in high school, and when we went to Dartmouth I was totally hooked,” she said.
Now back in the classroom on the other side of the desk, Kennedy is enjoying all that Sonoma has to offer and has felt welcome at Sonoma Valley High School. “I really like the small town culture of the school, and have felt very welcomed by all of the staff here. We also have a lot of access to technology, and excellent elective programs.”
So what advice would she give to students making plans for life after high school? “Listen to your heart and follow your dreams. Think about what makes you happy, and find a career you can build around that.”
As for students interested in becoming teachers? “Go for it, but buckle up, it’s going to quite a ride.”
In her spare time, Kennedy is an accomplished artist. She enjoys experimenting with graphic design, but her passion lies in painting.
She has a new website featuring her paintings www.kellykennedyart.com, and she just finished a dramatic painting of AT&T Park to celebrate the 2010 championship.