“I expect students to be active learners and independent thinkers,” Kelso said. “I want them to learn to face the problems and challenges in the classroom with excitement and not defeat so that one day they see the challenges of the real world with that same zeal.”

FC_TOY_PageForest Creek Elementary School second grade teacher Lora Kelso dreamed of becoming an educator since she was a child, often lining up stuffed animals for lessons and asking for a filing cabinet and teaching supplies for Christmas.

Kelso has been selected as the 2017 Teacher of the Year for Forest Creek. She has been an educator for 10 years, nine of which have been at Forest Creek.

Kelso has grown into a dedicated teacher, thanks to fellow educators who have helped mold her throughout her childhood, student teaching and teaching career, she said. Kelso comes from a long line of educators, including her grandmother, mother and several aunts and cousins who also teach second grade.

While fulfilling her passion for teaching, Kelso strives to individualize learning and ensure students realize their full potential.

“One goal I have for my classroom is to create an environment where all my students feel comfortable taking risks and do their best work,” Kelso said. “As teachers, I believe it’s imperative for us to recognize and remember that each student has unique strengths, weaknesses and needs. It is my job to meet them where they are and guide them on their journey of learning.”

Kelso’s second grade classroom is home to inquisitive learners bustling in small groups where they have an opportunity to discuss and share strategies. Rather than a strict teacher, Kelso sees herself as a learning facilitator for her students, she said.

“I expect students to be active learners and independent thinkers,” Kelso said. “I want them to learn to face the problems and challenges in the classroom with excitement and not defeat so that one day they see the challenges of the real world with that same zeal.”

Establishing respectful relationships and open lines of communication with students, parents and teammates are a key to Kelso’s success, Forest Creek Principal Sheri Lehnick said.

“Mrs. Kelso exemplifies the ideal teacher every student deserves,” Lehnick said. “She creates an environment that allows students to feel safe and to become problem solvers and risk-takers. She is a campus leader and a lifelong learner, always researching, analyzing and trying innovative educational techniques.”