Time runs out on talented GSMS teacher
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Watch Kelly Jerles-Blackwelder in her classroom ” which happens to be the choir room at Glenwood Springs Middle School ” and there’s no question this woman was born to be a teacher.
“She’s the most creative teacher,” said middle school student Sydney Schachter, 13, of the school’s music, speech and drama instructor. “She lets you be yourself. She lets you express yourself in her class.”
“She’s the best I’ve ever been around,” said band teacher Rob Merritt. “She has a great style with the kids, and they respond to her.”
However, because of a variety of Colorado Department of Education rules and regulations regarding teacher certification, Jerles-Blackwelder may not be returning to school this fall.
‘A very talented teacher’
Jerles-Blackwelder said she was “about 20 hours shy” of a bachelor’s degree when she took her teaching job in 2001.
Since then, she’s been working with Western Governors University, an online program recommended to her by the Colorado Department of Education, to obtain her B.A. and her teaching certification. She said she will complete the degree and certification by the beginning of 2005.
“I have been doing everything in my power to complete my education by the dates given me,” said Jerles-Blackwelder.
In an article in the April 15 edition of the Post Independent, assistant principal Robert Faris said because of a lower student enrollment, one GSMS teacher ” namely Jerles-Blackwelder ” would need to be cut, and one teacher would need to go half time.
Faris cited Jerles-Blackwelder’s lack of adequate teacher licensure as the reason for selecting her.
Teachers can continue teaching for three years while they’re working towards full certification. But while Jerles-Blackwelder is finishing her third year this year, she thought she had another year to finish her program. She’s since been informed by the Colorado Department of Education that she is out of time.
“Fred and Judy and everyone have been so positive and supportive,” she said of Re-1 superintendent Fred Wall and assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall.
“It is not, nor never has been, my intention to cause controversy. My intent is to clarify to the community that my efforts to get the required licensure were approved by the Colorado Department of Education.”
“This is an unfortunate incident,” said Wall. “We know Kelly is a very talented teacher, but we don’t have any leeway regarding teacher licensure.”
Wall declined to discuss specifics, since there are confidentiality rules for district personnel issues.
Haptonstall said she hopes Jerles-Blackwelder will be able to continue teaching.
“We’d love to have her back as soon as she gets her license,” Haptonstall said. “She’s such an asset to the district.”
‘She’s a keeper’
Jerles-Blackwelder said she “loves the kids in this school.”
It’s clear the feeling is mutual.
“We can talk to her if we have a problem or whatever,” said Kelly Lawson, 12. “If you get stage fright, she helps us. She has a lot of experience. She knows what she’s talking about.”
A former Miss Georgia, Jerles-Blackwelder has been the lead singer in several bands, and has appeared on television, and in film and live theater ” all experiences she draws on while teaching voice, speech and drama.
“When we make mistakes, she doesn’t make us feel bad,” said Mandi Amato, 12. “She lets us know she makes mistakes, too. Also, she’s really funny.”
“When I’m having a bad day, I look forward to coming to her class,” 13-year-old David Schied said. “Coming here changes your day completely.”
Thirteen-year-old Sara Guffey agreed with David.
“She’s always nice,” Sara said. “If I’m having a bad day, she makes my day better.”
“She expects discipline,” said Dominic Molinari, 12. “She knows that we learn when we’re having fun.”
“When she teaches, instead of just telling you, she gets people to do it,” added Sydney. “We want to keep her.”
“She’s taught us so much,” Mandi said. “She’s teaching us to read music and play guitar. Last trimester, she taught the whole choir to sing really loud. She taught us to project.”
“She’s a keeper,” said Kelly Lawson. “We love her.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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