September 22, 2020
This year, the school has welcomed many new faces among the staff. Among these educators working to reconcile virtual academy students with those who have chosen in-person learning is Kelli Secord. The new Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) teacher provides some insight into her life as well as the challenges of teaching a class that requires much face-to-face interaction.
Wingspan: Where are you originally from?
Secord: “I was born in North Kansas City, Missouri, but moved to Texas in middle school.”
Wingspan: What college did you attend? What did you study?
Secord: “I attended Baylor University and the University of North Texas for my undergraduate work and earned a B.S. in Family and Consumer Science. I did my graduate work at Lamar University and Angelo State University. I have a Master’s Degree in Teacher Leadership with a Texas School Counseling Certification.”
Wingspan: When did you know that you wanted to teach?
Secord: “I’m not really sure there was a defining moment where I knew I wanted to teach. My parents were both educators and education was always important in our family.”
Wingspan: How long have you been teaching for?
Secord: “This is my 25th year of teaching.”
Wingspan: What prompted you to come here? Where did you work before?
Secord: “I came to Liberty because I was excited about the opportunity to work with the Independent Study & Mentorship (ISM) Program here. Previously, I have been a school counselor at Wakeland High School and Trent Middle School, opened Wakeland in 2006 as a teacher where I taught a variety of courses (including ISM for 8 years), and have also taught in Abilene, TX, Athens, TX, Alexandria, Louisiana, and Pineville, Louisiana.”
Wingspan: How did you become interested in teaching ISM? Why did you want to teach ISM?
Secord: “When I was teaching at Wakeland, the ISM teacher left to teach at Lone Star and the principal asked if I would be interested in taking over the ISM program. I love this program because it offers high-achieving high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to direct their own learning and pursue their passions through research and real-world experiences in a career field of their choice. It truly is 21st Century Learning in action!”
Wingspan: How has your experience been teaching ISM?
Secord: “I love how the program is independent in nature yet offers opportunities for students to work collaboratively as well. It is a joy to work with self-directed students who are excited about their learning opportunities. I’m able to facilitate their learning process by offering guidance and encouragement as they follow their dreams!”
Wingspan: What has it been like teaching students online?
Secord: “There have definitely been some challenges with online learning, but I’m grateful for the support that is available. We’ll get there!”
Wingspan: What is it like teaching both virtual academy and in-person students?
Secord: “All of my classes are co-seated (have both face-to-face and virtual students). That presents a few challenges, but as time goes on I believe we will settle into a routine and find out what works best for all.”
Wingspan: Can you describe your experience so far with managing a nontraditional class that requires face-to-face interaction with COVID-19 restrictions?
Secord: “We are all going to have to be quite adaptable this year both individually and collectively. The majority of this year’s Liberty ISM students are virtual learners. We are asking all ISM students to use this experience to think creatively when proposing learning opportunities that fit their topics. Most, if not all, of our usual district-wide face-to-face interactions, will definitely look different this year. As a district ISM team, we are working together with district-level administration to brainstorm ways we can offer similar learning experiences in alternative ways this year. In addition, we are in the process of reaching out for input from area professionals to gauge their interest and availability in helping our students in their non-traditional learning experiences.”
Wingspan: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Secord: “As always, I’m most excited about getting to know the students better and watching them use their gifts and talents to create and participate in meaningful learning experiences.”
Wingspan: What are some goals you have for your students?
Secord: “Along with learning about their chosen topics, it is also my hope that my students are able to hone the skills needed to handle themselves, their relationships, and their work effectively and ethically.”
Wingspan: What are the biggest challenges that you face this year and how do you plan to overcome them?
Secord: “I think the biggest challenges that we’ll all be facing this year will be the continued changes in education – nationally, state-wide, locally, and on our campus. Change and adaptability will be the name of the game. Being willing to continue to learn and stay flexible is key!”
Wingspan: What is the most rewarding part of being a teacher, especially with your ISM students?
Secord: “Although it is a joy to see the ‘light’ come on when students learn a new concept or are able to apply their learning in a new and meaningful way, I have found the relationships built to be the most rewarding part of the teaching profession. I enjoy seeing ISM students get to experience the joy of learning in non-traditional ways that will lay the foundation for their future interests and careers. Keeping up with them as they are in college and beyond is also a joy!”
Wingspan: If you had the opportunity to take a class like ISM when you were in school, what would you have studied and why?
Secord: “I would have loved to have had the opportunity to take ISM as a high school student! I most likely would have chosen to study Marketing or Merchandising at that point in my life.”