When Kelly Setala saw her first-grade class roster in August, she already knew every single name. Her work as a kindergarten English Language Development (ELD) teacher at HLA – Northrop meant that she was able to kick off the school year with already-established relationships with almost all of her scholars, which is something that is crucial to their success.

The scholars in Kelly’s classroom are currently working on a multi-day journaling project where they name, draw, and characterize shapes. “It is one of my favorite things to teach because scholars start identifying shapes in everyday things, like an ice cream cone or a door,” she said. “It is powerful to see the connections they make and know that they are truly learning, and not just memorizing facts.”

The progress that each child makes is a big motivator for Kelly. Some scholars who last year were struggling in her ELD class are now reading books with full sentences and paragraphs. The scholars excitedly tell Kelly about their reading progress every week. “It makes me so proud to see them accelerating their reading and becoming more confident,” Kelly said. “I’m a lifelong reader and I want to inspire that in them, too.”

Kelly is currently reading a book for her Bible study, something that is very important to her. She also enjoys exercising, spending time with her husband Phil and their dog, and baking everything from cookies and fruit tart to banana bread.