For some, the goals and dreams they develop as a child are often forgotten as they grow older. As children grow up and encounter change, future dreams often change as well. This is not the case for Dr. James Craik Elementary School third-grade teacher Kelly Lundeen, who knew from an early age that she wanted to be a teacher. From practicing lessons with her younger sister when they played school during their childhood to encountering a high school social studies teacher she admired, Lundeen developed a passion for education long before she went to college.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I enjoyed learning so much from the start of my own education, and now I love to see my students grow with time. I never had another future goal in mind for myself. This is where I knew I wanted to be,” Lundeen said.
Fast forward to 2017 and Lundeen is now in her sixth year living out her childhood dream as a teacher. Her colleagues and students see her commitment to education and strive to model her energy and enthusiasm for teaching and learning. Lundeen is proud to call Craik her home and represent what it means to be a model teacher. She is also proud to represent Charles County as a finalist in the 2017 Washington Post Teacher of the Year awards program.
Lundeen is the chair of the employee nominations committee at Craik and a key player when it comes to identifying a colleague deserving of special recognition. She had no idea of her principal’s plans to nominate her for the Post’s Teacher of the Year program until she was called to her office one day and surprised with the news.
“I was honored that I was chosen to represent Craik. There are so many talented individuals here deserving of recognition who are role models for students,” Lundeen said.
Lundeen is highly respected by students, staff and parents. She focuses on relationship building and strives to capture a student’s heart in order to push them to their highest potential. Her classroom is bright, colorful and welcoming and students are eager to do their best and emulate Lundeen’s motto of “never give up.” Her commitment to inspire children and provide them with the best education possible is apparent in all that she does. She models ideals of what one would expect of an exceptional teacher.
Craik Principal Michelle Beckwith said she could see why Lundeen had a desire from a young age to become an educator. “Mrs. Lundeen has a calling in her life, and that calling is teaching. She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love learning and to respect each other. She is an excellent role model for all of the staff, showing that our students deserve only the best,” Beckwith wrote in a nomination letter.
Lundeen started her career with Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) as a first-grade teacher at Craik and joined the third-grade team in 2013. She works diligently to create lessons to reach all levels of learners and engage her students. She incorporates technology, games, real-life applications and group learning in the classroom.
When discussing book characters in class, Lundeen has her students create life-size images of themselves to help with the analysis process. She holds tea parties for her students to talk about math concepts and features a circle of knowledge activity to engage students in group discussion. Lundeen also uses an inside-outside circle strategy so her students can reflect and share with their classmates and facilitate their own question and answer sessions.
Craik fourth grader Dylan Villarouel is one of Lundeen’s former students. He wrote a letter on behalf of her nomination and said her classroom is a place where students know they can achieve success.
“Her classroom is filled with fun things for everyone to see. This made me feel like I can be the best student ever. In her class, I learned math, wonderful reading skills, amazing tips and points about writing. I loved coming to school every day to have Mrs. Lundeen as my teacher,” Villarouel wrote.
Lundeen’s commitment to children extends outside of her classroom as she is involved in most extracurricular activities at Craik and holds several leadership positions. She is the chair for the events committee, chess club assistant, teacher mentor, Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) representative, and member of the Relay for Life, School Climate, Career Day and Positive, Behavioral, Interventions and Supports (PBIS) committees. Lundeen has also participated in numerous school-based and countywide professional development sessions and is often sought by her peers for assistance.
Shannon Durst teaches first grade at Craik and has worked with Lundeen for the past six years. She describes Lundeen as an exemplary role model who approaches all that she does with a positive and eager attitude.
“Mrs. Lundeen is an exemplary role model to both her colleagues and students. She offers a wealth of knowledge and dedication to her profession in education. She creates lessons that are hands-on and engaging. From tea parties, game shows and carousels to lunch bunches, contests and individual instruction, Mrs. Lundeen creates a learning environment in which students want to succeed and feel confident approaching the content presented to them,” Durst wrote in a nomination letter.
After her announcement as Charles County’s finalist for the Post Teacher of the Year program, Lundeen said her colleagues and students put together a surprise party to congratulate her on her accomplishments. “My students understand what the award means and tell me I am the best teacher in the county. They have had fun being able to brag about their teacher,” she said.
For Lundeen, her most cherished memories of her career so far include watching students develop a love for school and learning. “I had a student earlier this year that had issues learning and had a negative attitude of school. Since the student joined my class, she has learned to love school. Her Dad has even told me of the positive changes at home. It is rewarding to see growth with my students over time,” she added.
As Charles County’s finalist for the Post Teacher of the Year award, Lundeen will be recognized by the Board of Education at its June 13 meeting.