Meet the teacher: Kelli Gordon loves to see student growth

Name: Kelli Gordon

Age (optional): One of my students recently started telling people that I am 24, and I think we should continue that rumor!

School: Gateway Polytechnic Academy

Why you chose to work in the district: I moved from New Mexico 4 years ago, and my husband and I fell in love with Queen Creek. When I interviewed to become a teacher at GPA I was immediately drawn to the STEAM influence and the mastery learning model. Overall, I love that our school focuses on the whole child; academics but also social emotional health.

Gateway Polytechnic Academy teacher Kelli Gordon. (Submitted photo)

What I like most about what I do: My favorite part of teaching is the relationships I build with my students. I love watching students apply what they’ve learned into their work. First grade is the best because we see so much growth. The rewards are endless. Not to mention the conversations in first grade are absolutely priceless.

Where did you come from: I grew up in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, New Mexico. My family and I moved to Arizona when my husband transferred with Intel. I found my place in the community and staff of Gateway Polytechnic Academy. I have never felt so welcomed and accepted by a group of people, and my husband and I both knew right away that we had found our true “home.”

If I had picked a different occupation it might have been: Teaching is actually my second career. I started in Property Management, managing several apartment communities. I managed the staff and residents while maintaining and balancing our multi-million-dollar budget. I loved my job, and would go back to it if teaching didn’t fulfill a purpose in me that management never could. There is no other job in the world where I can have a logical discussion about my ‘second favorite’ reptile like I can with my first graders.

What I’m looking forward to most this school year: I have seen so much growth and progress with my students this year. These kids not only learn what I teach them, but they implement their new skills into different areas of their lives. I am looking forward to seeing their continued growth and confidence. I look forward to showing them that I not only care about them as students, but as people.

My vision for the school: GPA has come a long way since we opened our doors 4 years ago. Our vision to “Engineer Tomorrow’s Leaders Today” is such a powerful statement. I truly want to do my part in preparing my kids for the future so they can be successful, life-long learners who are able to collaborate and think critically. I want them to question and inquire to help them learn about things that matter to them.

People who inspired me (and how): My biggest inspirations have been my husband and my mom. My husband inspires me as a person. He makes me want to be a better human. He shows me daily about what it means to serve others and to continue to strive to be better than you were the day before. My mom inspires me as a teacher. She retired as a special education teacher after 25 years. At her retirement party I was able to listen to her past students talk about how much she impacted their lives, which made me want to strive to be just half the teacher she is. She truly changed lives and left an impression that can never be erased. I just hope that I can put a fraction of the good she put out into the world. I have very big shoes to fill, but because of these inspirational people, I will continue to get up each day and try to be better than I was yesterday.

One thing I want students to know about me: I’m not perfect. I make mistakes every day. Don’t let mistakes stop you from trying. The more you get up and try, the better you will get. This advice is true for all ages, and all aspects of your life.

One thing I want parents to know about me: In the year that your kids are with me, I truly think of them as my own. They weave into my heart and leave a lasting impression. My goal each year is to try to form a partnership with parents. We both have the same goal: to see that their child is happy, healthy, safe, and successful.

My advice to today’s youth: Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start. Every day is a new beginning, another chance to try again. Never give up, get up each day and be your best self!

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