Spotlights
FACE of the Week: Kelley Kelly, PTA President at Dogwood Elementary School
As part of BCPS’ commitment to ongoing Family And Community Engagement, the “FACE of the Week” is a new, regular feature of the BCPS website that introduces you to some of the people who make BCPS special – our volunteers and PTA members.
01/20/2016

Spotlight

She is diligent and enthusiastic, a hard worker who feels passionately about the importance of education. Yet Kelley Kelly’s young life so far also makes a strong case for the power of serendipity. Sometimes, it steps in and shows the way.

There was the time in 1998, for instance, when she was finishing up at Woodlawn High School, taking classes at Coppin State University, and working at a Blockbuster store. Conversations with one of that store’s customers, a psychology teacher at Randallstown High School, led to her requesting – and receiving – an internship that inspired her career in education.

And then, after graduating from Coppin, a serendipitous meeting with Lynnette Woodley, then principal at Old Court Middle School, helped Kelly move from a long-term substitute teaching position at Woodlawn High into a reading post at Old Court.

Or consider the time in 2009 when Kelly was searching for a new job following the birth of her first son, Kamal. She loved her work for the Johns Hopkins University Talent Development program, but she’d been spending too much time on the road. She yearned to be closer to home and her growing family. At just that time, the Community College of Baltimore County posted an opening for director of its Upward Board program based at its Dundalk campus. Kelly had been part of Upward Bound 10 years earlier at Woodlawn High; to be director of the program locally was her dream job, and she has done it ever since.

"It’s just amazing how these things just seem to fall into my lap," she says. "I’ve been very blessed."

It was also serendipity, perhaps, that led Kelly to Dogwood Elementary School and its principal, Betty Pettiford. Kelly and her husband, Kimbrough, a special education inclusion teacher and junior varsity basketball coach at Milford Mill Academy, were looking for just the right school for Kamal. The young family (which now also includes 2-year-old son Konner) ended up at Dogwood, impressed with Pettiford and the school’s use of technology. Kelly joined the PTA and soon attracted Pettiford’s attention.

The school was losing its PTA president, and Pettiford was keeping an eye out for potential PTA presidents.

"I saw the leadership potential in Kelly right away," says Pettiford. "She’s a great listener. She reacts to everything so positively. She has a lot of patience. I knew I had to approach her to be PTA president."

"I needed someone to bring the parents together, and she has a real ‘follow-throughness’ that means a lot gets done," Pettiford says. "She’s just a great asset to Dogwood."

So last year, just as Kamal started kindergarten at Dogwood, Kelly, 35, took over the reins of the school’s PTA, limping along at the time with just 22 paid members. Kelly says she hardly knew what to expect.

Growing the PTA

With just half a year under her belt as PTA president, Kelly has outgrown her skepticism about the job. She believes it’s time to start moving ahead with her vision for what the group can be. Already, she and her PTA team have grown the group from 22 to 77 paid members this year and continue to see growing interest. "It used to be that maybe six or seven people would attend the meetings," she says. "Now there are about 20 parents who are coming each month."

Kelly and her PTA team got a handle on the organization’s financial records and updated the group’s bylaws. They sponsored not only the school’s annual Harvest Festival but also the "Purple Pride" t-shirts and morning public service announcements for the whole school. Under Kelly’s leadership, the group began a monthly "Fit Friday" activity, which invites students and their families to exercise with a personal trainer.

Now that the group "has its feet on the ground," Kelly says she’d like to increase parent involvement. One way she has done that is to reserve an alcove in the school’s hallway near the office for a "PTA Nook," which contains resources for parents and features Dalmatian paw prints (for the school’s mascot) plastered to the wall – each one representing a new teacher or parent who has joined the PTA. The table also encourages parents to provide feedback about the school or the PTA.

Yet more projects remain. As the school’s population grows more diverse, Kelly is looking for new ways to reach out to and involve all parents. Participation, Kelly stresses, "doesn’t have to be a life altering commitment."

 "I have a lot of vision and a lot of hope," she says, regarding the PTA’s future.

And, every now and then, a bit of serendipity, too. 

To learn more about the PTA of Baltimore County, visit http://www.bcptacouncil.org/.  

For more photos, visit the BCPS Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcps/albums/72157663580183351.

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, specialist, BCPS Family and Community Engagement.
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