Mid-Year Reflections: Ms. Kelsey

After half a year at Hanover High School, Casey Kelsey, our newest science teacher, feels at home here, and is excited for what may come in the second semester. “Starting a new teaching job always feels like being a brand new teacher,” Ms. Kelsey says, describing how it took her time to adapt to HHS. She not only had to remember all her students’ names, but had to learn simple things which long-time Hanoverians never think about: where basic supplies are kept, how to use Schoology, and even where to park.

Ms. Kelsey grew up in Lyme, NH, and though she did not attend HHS she knows the Upper Valley well. She went to Brown University, was on the rowing team, and graduated with a double major in biology and economics. She never expected to be a teacher; she always knew she liked science, but thought she would end up doing something in medicine. As a TA in college she had her first inkling that she might like teaching, but her first job after graduation was in a genetics lab. After a year there she felt that it wasn’t social enough, and “disconnected from helping people.” She decided to apply to teaching jobs because she knew that as a teacher she could again be part of a team — as a member of the school community, and literally as a rowing coach.

Before Hanover, Ms. Kelsey taught in boarding schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but she always knew she wanted to move back to the Upper Valley. She had already bought a house in Norwich, so when a position for a biology teacher opened up at HHS she jumped at the opportunity.

One of the hardest transitions for Ms. Kelsey has been the difference between the technology students have. At her previous schools, each student would have the same iPad as everyone else, whereas Hanover students use a range of different devices: Chromebooks, personal computers, iPads, and more. Ms. Kelsey really enjoys teaching coding and using interesting programs she finds, so everyone’s different devices make it harder to coordinate, and some apps just don’t work on some devices.

Another difference to the boarding schools she taught at is that there are “not as many casual interactions” and it has “been a little harder to get to know students at HHS.” At a boarding school Ms. Kelsey would see students during meals, doing sports, and “just all the time,” since they all lived together. Joining the Hanover community during COVID has also had an impact because many social activities are no longer allowed or have limited student capacity, providing less opportunity for any connections to be made outside of class.

She is excited to make more out-of-class connections with students this spring as a rowing coach, and hopes that as she settles into HHS she will be able to know her students as well as she did in her previous schools.

One way that Hanover does feel similar to the prep schools she previously taught at is that there are a lot of resources available. “If I need something for a lab, I can just order it,” she says. She thinks HHS is probably more akin to a prep school in that regard than to most other public high schools.

Ms. Kelsey taught Biology, Ethics, and Introduction to Engineering and Design 1, and this semester she is teaching Biology, Electronics and Programming, and Introduction to Engineering and Design 2. She says she has no favorite class (or no favorite that she can announce in the paper). She feels like she’s teaching all the classes that she wants to teach, and can’t think of a more ideal class that she’d create.

Outside of school, Ms. Kelsey often visits her parents, who both still live in the Upper Valley, and enjoys running with her dog Franklin. Recently she has been spending a lot of time fixing up her house. She describes it as having a “haunted vibe,” since it is very tall and thin, “like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie.”

Ms. Kelsey would like to give a shout out to Ms. Gartner, Ms. Morley, and Ms. Kornfeld, who she shares an office with for making lunch together and sharing food.

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