Patrick Kelly, a humanities teacher at Paulo Freire Freedom School-Downtown, was one of nine finalists for the TVT Leaders in Education teacher awards this year! Check out the nomination letter below, written by colleague Jessica Janecek, to get a sense of the many ways that Patrick exhibits his leadership – in the classroom, in the community, and with his colleagues.
Upon reading the description for the Raytheon Leaders in Education Award, there was one name that stood out to me: Patrick Kelly. He is an educator who exemplifies what the award stated they were looking for, namely that ‘they distinguish themselves as leaders and play an active and useful role in their communities and in their schools.’ He is truly a leader in every sense of the word, and I have been honored to work alongside him.
Up until this year, I only knew Patrick as the dedicated basketball coach who would stop into classes to give his teammates high fives and encouraging words. This year I moved into the room next door to his giving me a glimpse into the amazing projects that he does in his classes that engage students in social justice issues in unique and meaningful ways. I am in continued awe of how Patrick can inspire middle school students to care so much about their work. One example of him going above and beyond, was when he developed a long-lasting partnership with the Jewish History Museum that provided students with a new level of depth in their understanding of genocide throughout history and the atrocity of this human behavior. Patrick nurtured a close working relationship with the staff at the museum, which allowed his students access to first-hand accounts from actual Holocaust survivors on multiple occasions. Many students highlighted the transformative and deep learning flowing from this partnership in their end of the year portfolio presentations and during their 8th-grade graduation ceremony.
I was extremely fortunate to have Patrick as our Red for Ed site liaison. He worked to make sure that all staff were aware of the issues and gave everyone a chance to have their voices heard. He worked strategically and diplomatically with his colleagues, the administration, parents, and the larger downtown community to build support for our efforts. We took several trips to Phoenix during the walkout, and I was proud to be with him as he spoke at the House Appropriations Committee. He didn’t use that time to talk about himself and the hardships that lack of funding has caused him and his classroom; rather, he used his time to recognize all the educators there. It gave everyone there a chance to be proud of our profession and our contribution to our profession as educators.
Patrick is able to create an environment in which all people feel important and cared for. Whether he is buying the basketball team tacos or sharing his learning with our school community, he is looking out for those around him. I look forward to professional development opportunities when I know that I will have a chance to learn from him. He shares his insights on best practices and supports his peers as we aim to improve and grow into better educators.
I am lucky to work with an amazing team of educators, but Patrick Kelly is a standout among stars. His level of dedication to both his students and the profession is amazing. I cannot think of an educator more deserving of this award than Patrick.