Tuesday, July 28, 2020


30 has come and gone. I may only be changing digits and not decades this year, but it has been one of growth and being stretched in ways I never anticipated. 30 brought our sweet baby girl. It brought bump pics and potty training and cheesin after church. It brought the launch of The Brim, and learning how to be business partners with your spouse (and somehow still like each other). It brought questions and dreams, risks and leaps. Being stretched in more ways than I knew possible, and yet somehow feeling invigorated by the change I typically hate. It brought learning how to be a mom of two, working online from home, and never “going back” in person from my maternity leave. It brought a global pandemic, anxiety, and a season of waiting and longing while also holding on to hope and trust. It brought the decision to step away from teaching for a season, to follow my heart and my current calling, even through it’s risky and unknown. 

I may not be reflecting on an entire decade today, but somehow I feel like this year has grown me in similar ways to that of all my twenties combined. Just when you think you’ve figured out a good chunk of your life, things seems to be shaken up and rearranged with more questions than answers. And yet, there is beauty in the journey and joy in the unveiling of the next step ahead- with just enough light to find footing on a path that is largely dark. 

I know I will be here until my purpose is fulfilled, and I am grateful that it seems God has more up His sleeves for my life than I could have dreamed. I’ve realized that it is a blessing to grow older, and so today I march forward with a little more gray in my hair, a little more pep in my step, and a little more confidence that 31 will be a year of growth, hope, and striving to make a difference with the days that I’m given. Here we go! 


Thursday, July 16, 2020


The school year ended May 22nd, and it didn’t even feel like it. I was at home with my kids, not on a sun-soaked football field signing yearbooks for the sweet students I spent the last year, or two, or three years with. There was a unique beauty in online teaching. Being home with Eli and Addie, not having to “go back” from maternity leave, having freedom in my days. But of course there were also struggles: balancing two kids and two teachers working from home, missing the in person interaction of students, co-workers, and friends. One of the weirdest things about it all is this: I walked out of school on January 8, 2020 not knowing that Addie would be born the next morning, that COVID-19 would force online learning, or that I would never get the chance to say goodbye to my students in person. Not knowing that I wouldn’t be back.

For the 2020-2021 school year, I will be taking a leave of absence, or "sabbatical" from teaching. I am both thrilled to be home with my babies, and also a little bit terrified. This is a decision that was not made lightly or easily. I knew that being away from Eli while teaching full-time had been more difficult for me than I anticipated, but I had done it. We had a great sitter, amazing grandmas, and a fairly good routine down. But with Addie joining us, I feel my heart calling me to my own kids for a season. Knowing that I would be teaching full time, adding another kid to the crazy morning mix, and managing a busier season with The Brim left me feeling like I would be doing everything and yet doing none of it well. I wrestled and wrestled with this decision, mainly because I recognize that I have it so good. My poor husband, family, and friends have listened to me talk about whether or not to do this a million times, and even after I finally made my decision, I second-guessed myself. I mourned all of the good things about teaching that I knew that I would be letting go of. It’s a blessing to have a job that you feel torn about stepping away from, even if it's just for a year, and a crazy year at that. 

In May of 2011, I graduated from the University of Missouri and walked the halls of Liberty High School for the first time as a teacher that August. For the last nine years, I have known nothing other than putting on LHS gear and heading across 152 to the school, home of the Blue Jays, to spend my days with pretty incredible kiddos and some really wonderful co-workers. I came in as a 22 year old, freshly out of college, and since then I've had two classrooms, got married, earned my Master's Degree, and had two babies- along with countless other big life moments. I have grown as an adult and have seen the journey of life take different roads than I would ever have anticipated. Teaching AP and Gifted ELA has meant teaching some of the most brilliant, capable, and creative students. And it is very difficult to give that up, knowing that I may never be back in the same place.  

For now, I am basically a "frozen" employee. During my leave, I can put my name in to be “reinstated” and I would be able to get the next open teaching job in my certification (9-12 ELA or Gifted K-12) within the school district. Obviously, this means I am not guaranteed to be back at LHS, which has made all of this much, much harder as I step out of a year where there was certainly no closure. I literally went into my room for one two-hour period and took nine years worth of things off the walls and out of the file cabinets. It felt strange, emotional, and anti-climactic. Surreal really. Normally I would've had weeks of packing things up, slowly navigating through files while still seeing my students and treasuring these last memories with them. My neighbor teacher would have come in with a mug of coffee and we would have laughed about a crazy kid story. I would have shared senior superlatives and read my annual Letter to My Students. Instead, I teared up, took off my mask to take one last selfie outside my room, and walked down an empty hallway by myself, carrying the weight of the fact that I may never be back as a teacher at LHS again. It was like ripping off a bandaid. I cried when I left my keys on a desk in the normally bustling, empty office. That being said, there is also a sense of freedom in knowing that I’m making the right decision for right now, even though there’s so much unknown. Even though it’s scary. 

When people ask, “What do you do?”, I normally say I'm a teacher. For this next year, I’m not really sure yet how I will respond to that question. Honestly, I know this school year will look different for all of the teachers. Not having a typical "first day of school" will feel extra strange for us all; we'll miss the normalcy of our days, the pre-COVID school climate that was better than we realized at the time. My heart goes out to all the teachers in the trenches this year (whether online or virtual), including my own husband. I’m realizing that teaching has been a really huge part of my identity, and the only job that I felt sure I would ever do: potentially at the only school I would ever teach at for 30+ years. But while I find out what the Lord has for the future, I know that I am going to cherish this year with my children, and trust that He will take me right where I should be (and it seems that this sabbatical proved to be pretty timely). He has never failed me yet. 

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It’s hard to believe that over a thousand students have filled the desks in my classroom over the last eight years. 👩🏽‍🏫 A thousand futures, a thousand smiles, a thousand precious lives that have crossed paths with my own. They are my absolute favorite part of teaching: the students. If you were one of my previous students OR YL friends (who'll forever be some of "my kids"), comment below with what you’re up to these days! In honor of all the incredible kiddos I've seen over the years (some who aren’t “kiddos” at all anymore), click @currentlykelsie and the #linkinbio to see my "letter to my students”- my most popular blog post EVER. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the amazing educators I had, taught with, and still learn from! You make a difference! 💕#teachersofinstagram #teacherappreciationweek #teach
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Whatever the next chapter looks like, I am forever grateful for what this one has been. There have been thousands of amazing kids that I've had the pleasure of teaching and have connected with through years of Liberty YoungLife, and I would not have traded a single second of that. I've worked football games and proms, coached softball, attended Senior girls lock ins and amazing musicals, judged Mr. Liberty and taken kids to national NHD competitions and even overseas to Greece. I have been a part of winning faculty basketball teams and choreographed Staffires dances, dressed crazy for spirit weeks, and made a fool of myself on numerous occasions in front of my class of chuckling kids. These high school students have made my job fun and given it purpose, and I am so grateful for all of the relationships made in the hours, days, and years we've shared. My students are forever "my kids", and I'm so excited to see all the amazing things they'll go on to do. If you're one of them reading this, know that I care about you and am so proud of you.

I may be back at LHS. I may not. Time will tell. But one thing is for sure, I am so grateful to be a Bluejay, and I will miss it this school year, COVID and all. Now it's time to go make some memories with my babies.