By Jacob Wilson
As a longtime Kingsburg teacher, Mrs. Janet Kelly has demonstrated Viking Valor by molding young minds and by empowering her students to compete in History Day at national level competitions.
While Kelly is celebrating her 50 year high school reunion as a KHS Class of 1968 graduate, she was also a local educator for nearly 30 years. In fact, she has been in education since she graduated from Fresno Pacific University in 1986.
In addition, Kelly’s family has strong roots in Kingsburg that go back to its founding. Now in retirement, Kelly is still contributing to Kingsburg students and the greater community.
More than 50 years ago, when Kelly was still in high school, she was encouraged by her counselor to be a housewife, but she had other aspirations.
“I went to Fresno Pacific and studied art. Then to Reedley and I studied Child Development. I went back to Reedley to complete the requirements for directing a preschool, and I started SonShine Learning Center. I earned my BA in Liberal Studies in 1986, and would have graduated with honors, but was a few units shy of the FPU requirement for the honors designation.
“I definitely had the GPA. Then, I became a teacher at Kings River and found that all of my life's experiences built the skills to help students reach their potential. If people ever wonder why I wanted my students to feel welcomed, and loved, and treasured, they can thank a well-meaning, but thoughtless counselor that never thought I could really do anything more than be a rodeo queen,” stated Kelly.
Kelly recognizes that KHS in the 1960’s was much like it is today, “KHS felt safe and happy. I had a good group of friends. We definitely had fun. Our fun times included going to Young Life, Youth for Christ, as well as all the activities most kids enjoy today. We listened to lots of music, and had dances.”
Kelly further stated, “[The 60s] were a time of great turmoil in the United States. The Vietnam war was in full swing, the Tet Offensive had occurred the previous year, and many Americans didn’t make it home.”
Though social issues of the day seemed more volatile during the 1960s according to Kelly, Kingsburg was always a constant.
“Kingsburg High School meant safety for me because it was predictable. It was almost a cocoon of protection from all that was happening around me,” Kelly stated.
Kelly elaborated that her experience at KHS was marked by fun, “Every day was enjoyable! My teachers joked making learning fun, and my classmates were always great to be around.”
Today, when students remember Mrs. Kelly’s 5th grade Kings River Elementary classroom, they have a similar reaction. They almost always remark on the joy and passion that Kelly displayed in her lessons. Quite simply, teaching and working with children make her joyful.
Her students also remember how she effectively brought history alive. Over the years, she inspired her students to compete in several History Day events and she accompanied her students to compete at the state and national levels in Sacramento and Washington, DC.
The time and care Janet Kelly devoted to the students throughout her career is invaluable. Since the KHS graduating Class of 2018 will soon be honoring Mrs. Kelly and the Class of 1968 at this year’s commencement ceremony for their 50 year Viking reunion, it is also symbolic to recognize her as this month’s Viking Valor recipient.
Thank you, Mrs. Kelly, for all of the students you have supported and helped throughout your career. You are a true display of what it means to be a Viking!