By Gwen Baker – Contributing Writer
Over 70 bodies were squeezed into The Landing like moviegoers on opening night as people waited for Kelly-Anne Rush to speak about her experiences as a teacher. Dressed in a black and white striped dress with a cardigan on and an honest but positive attitude, Rush gave hope to the aspiring educators in the room.
Currently, a social studies teacher at Windham High School, Rush started by telling a story of what inspired her to become a teacher, dating all the way back to elementary school. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Rich, saw something in her that she didn’t yet know at eight years old. When Rush wanted to be in the ensemble for the class play Little Bunny Sue, Rich said to her, “you know what? I think you should be Little Bunny Sue.” Although Rush did not believe she could do it, Mrs. Rich assured her that she had confidence in her.
Rush then discussed overcoming challenges students may face after graduating from college. She explained how she paid off her student loans by becoming a professional live-in nanny through the agency Beacon Hill Nannies outside of Boston for a year.
Rush wasn’t always at Windham High School; she first started teaching at Lake Region High School as a long-term sub, which turned into eight years of teaching there. While she had strong relationships with students and colleagues, she emphasized going out of your comfort zone in order to grow.
Her transition to Windham High School wasn’t the easiest. Halfway into her first day at WHS, she cried in the teacher’s room. She told the audience, “I did not anticipate the feeling I would have of not having any connections to any students.” While this was a low point in Rush’s life, she told this story to show that there are going to be days, months and years where work isn’t going to be easy.
She also discussed how to juggle finances on a teacher’s salary. Going into her sixth year at WHS, she has picked up different stipend positions at the school over the years such as homecoming coordinator and class advisor. Outside of school, she sells clothes on consignment and refinishes furniture found at Goodwill, Poshmark and Salvation Army. She also flips several houses to earn extra money. In the past, she owned a photography business during the summer.
She showed the audience her teaching blog that she created. It has teaching resources for ways to help stay organized in the classroom. She discussed the power of social media and how her website has become popular amongst the teaching community. One of her posts has been viewed 250,000 times.
Rush’s ability to connect with the audience and add humor allowed others to feel at ease going into the teaching profession. “I really appreciate that was she was honest about the fact that the profession isn’t always easy,” said Jacqueline Gleason Biore, a sophomore majoring in Secondary Education English and French. “She was preparing us well for what we might experience. It will be hard sometimes but that doesn’t mean you should quit because it can be hard for everyone.”
Rush offered advice to anyone struggling with the responsibilities of being an educator. “Stay true to who you are as a teacher and really try to build relationships, eventually you’re going to feel great there and comfortable.”