By Taylor Shillam
Kelly Osler, Special Education
Dalton Elementary School
“I love helping students reach their fullest potential and feel confident about their strengths,” says Kelly Osler, K-5 Special Education teacher at Dalton Elementary School. “As a Special Education teacher, I’m passionate about helping kids understand that their disability doesn't define them and to embrace the things that make them unique.”
Dalton Principal Jody Hiltenbrand says Kelly is the epitome of the champion every child deserves, investing her whole heart into the social, emotional and academic growth of her students.
“She deals with a myriad of challenging situations, from informing parents their child has a disability, to accepting parents who decline to test their child for services, and everything in between—and she does it all with grace,” Jody describes. “She has grit and patience, humor and warmth, toughness and professionalism. Over the past five years, it has been wonderful to watch her grow in courage, expertise and confidence.”
Kelly says her 12 years of teaching have been full of amazing moments. “I love being able to teach my students for up to six years,” she says. “It gives me the opportunity to see an exponential amount of growth from tiny 5-year-old kindergarteners to 11-year-old fifth-grade graduates.”
Kelly and her students often become quite close after six years together. “It’s always so hard to watch them move on to middle school, but it feels wonderful knowing I helped prepare them for the next step in their journey,” she says. “I always say that I feel like a mama bird, pushing my little babies out of the nest and watching them fly away!”
Kelly says the general public may be surprised to know just how much teachers care about each and every one of their students on a deep level. “We try to be a consistent, positive, joyful presence in their lives every day,” she says. “The number of tears I've shed and sleepless nights I've had over particular students over the years are too numerous to count.”
In her classroom, she has a picture of a field filled with yellow tulips. In the center is a yellow tulip with one red petal. “I tell all of my students they are like that red and yellow tulip,” she says. “They all have something about them that makes them completely special and unique. That ‘red petal’ is what makes them unlike anyone else.”
Kelly teaches her students to share their red petal with the world, and to be kind to others when discovering their red petal.
“These students are so much more than just a ‘job’ for teachers,” Kelly says. “It is never lost on us the tremendous responsibility and privilege we have by being such a huge part of their young lives.”