Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – Building A Legacy

Welcome back to our Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight. Each month we highlight a different educator in the district who are making a positive impact on those around them. This month we visit Mollie Kelleher. Mollie is a Computer Science Teacher at Altona Middle School. She is in her fourth year at Altona and has been a part of the district for 17 years.

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Mollie jokes she is a “recovering English teacher” having spent most of her career teaching English at a high school level. As our conversation moved from learning more about her background and what brought her to being a computer science teacher, glimpses of the legacy she is building started to shine. During her tenure as a high school English teacher in Montana, she noticed how many students needed remedial help. Instead of staying still she applied for and won a grant to establish a family literacy program. This program’s intent was to help students early in their academic career and reduce the need for remedial help later on.

Mollie lights up when talking about her current teaching role at Altona. She is having the time of her life at this point in her career. She confidently and gracefully accepts that she is no longer the expert in the room, and she is learning right along with her students. She wants her students not to be afraid of technology, but rather make it their tool. ‘Leading by example’ is her encouragement not only to her students but her co-workers as well.

Her passion for this space is amplified when she talks about her desire to reach and teach more young women and minority students in this field. She actively recruits these students for her coursework and helps them discover a pathway to a future career. Currently, she’s working on a video with these students to encourage even more students to explore these career paths.

Mollie’s passion extends to her co-workers, freely sharing her knowledge and skills. Mollie took me on a little tour of the school, specifically to the maker room. We walked in and students were using a design development tool called Agile Scrum. Students create projects, assign tasks and complete projects. Mollie attended a conference where she became an Agile Scrum Master. She came back and started a professional learning team at Altona and brought this back to her co-workers. As we walked back to the library to finish up our interview, we stopped by another teacher’s room where they had several scrum boards up and running.

As she goes throughout her day she leaves a little bit of inspiration in each room to challenge what is possible, to test limits and be comfortable doing so. Her legacy will be in helping students and co-workers to find their passions and directions.

Mollie, thank you for taking the time to meet with us, and we wish you all the best!