Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Kelleman

Hannah Kinne, Contributor

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Every student has a favorite teacher, and every teacher has probably got a favorite student. That’s just how people are (and any teacher that says they don’t have a favorite student is probably lying). Usually, when high school students are asked why that teacher is their favorite, they respond with things like “He’s cool” or “she’s a lot of fun,” or even “they remember what it’s like to be a teenager.” Sometimes, the deciding factor is something less personal, such as “I actually learned something this year.”

As students, it can be weird to realize that teachers have lives outside of school. They really were just like us in high school, and they’re still real people now. Living in Kent County, teachers can be spotted at the farmers’ market, at the grocery store, even at yoga classes.

Mr. Kelleman remembers what it’s like to be a teenager. “I’m just like a teenager [in some ways],” he says. A fan of video games, he prefers turn-based strategy games and names Civilization V as a favorite, which he describes as “a kind of virtual board game. If you’ve ever played Risk, it’s like that.”

That’s not all he does outside of school, though. As a cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track coach, he is an avid runner and runs on the weekends. In high school, Mr. Kelleman ran track and cross-country and made states in cross-country three out of his four high school years. He enjoys reading in his free time as well, and states that he’s a big fan of Michael Crichton, author of The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park, among other popular science fiction and thriller novels.

In school, Mr. Kelleman is helping Mrs. Goetz out with Envirothon this year, an environmental competition where five-student teams compete in stations to demonstrate their knowledge of and ability in four categories: Soil, Aquatics, Forestry, and Wildlife. They will be going to regionals in about a month, and States in June.

Mr. Kelleman grew up in Kentucky and moved to Pennsylvania for his senior year of high school, and admits the memories of his high school years are not nearly as vivid as those memories he made in college. He spent his first year at Drexel in Philadelphia before transferring to Penn State for his final three years in college. He describes his experience at Drexel as “weird. [We] had trimesters instead of semesters, so we were on a different cycle than everybody else. Our breaks, our spring breaks and winter breaks [and others] were at different times than pretty much every other college student, so you were basically cut off from everybody you didn’t go to school with.”

Mr. Kelleman remedied that feeling with a transfer to Penn State beginning his sophomore year. He stated he had always wanted to go to Penn State, but wouldn’t be granted in-state tuition at the time of his freshman year – he hadn’t been living in Pennsylvania long enough. “But I pretty much always knew Penn was where I was going to end up.” While at Penn, he participated in PhD research projects as an undergraduate research assistant – most notably in a study pertaining to turf grass, such as the kind used on golf courses.

But why teach? Many teachers are asked this question, and the answers vary nearly as much as the people who are asked. Mr. Kelleman answered this question the way one might hope a teacher would: “I always knew I wanted to do something with biology… in my second year of college I made a list of everybody who had influenced me in some way, and I realized they were all teachers.”

Now Mr. Kelleman is a teacher himself, just two credits shy of his master’s degree. He says he can probably finish that up this summer, and likely will.

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Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Kelleman