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After 17 years, Colley still in love with teaching first graders

VALLEY — Everyone has their reasons for going into work, whether it be compensation or a sense of accomplishment. First grade teacher Kelli Colley finds her satisfaction in seeing her students eyes light up as they learn.

“I’ve always loved kids,” said the Auburn-educated Huguley Elementary School teacher. “I started school taking nursing classes, but changed my mind to teaching.”

Colley added she felt the Lord put the idea to teach in her heart.

“I hadn’t thought of it before, but it was a good fit,” she said.

Colley started teaching back in 2001 at Eastside Elementary School in LaFayette, where she stayed for 11 years. She then moved to Huguley, which has been her home for the past 6 years.

In all that time, teaching first grade has been her only job.

“I love teaching them to read,” she said. “I like watching how it opens so many doors and their eyes light up.”

Colley added that Dr. Seuss is her favorite to read to her students, especially Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Her teaching style does not involve an abundance of book work.

She noted her students are put into small groups and given a lot of hand-on activities. This includes singing and rhyming.

“They love to sing and dance,” Colley said. “When teaching to subtract we have a short song to teach counting backwards. They have a lot of energy and you have to use it and get it out of them.”

She added that in the 17 years she’s been teaching, much has changed, including the increased use of technology.

“When I started we only had two computers,” she said.

Colley is also a big proponent of measuring a student’s success on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to overall test scores.

“I like to celebrate where each [student] has ended up,” she said.

Colley’s plans for next year are not very drastic. She mainly plans to keep up with modern teaching practices.

“I always strive to grow and bring in best practices,” she said. “I have to work to keep up.”

Outside of class, Colley spends most of her time with her family. She is married to Bryan Colley and the pair have two children: 20-year-old Hunter and 7-year-old Grayden.

“I also like to go camping and spend time at Happy Valley Baptist Church,” she said.

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