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The Student News Site of Dakota Ridge High School

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Meet the Staff: Jennifer Kelley

Sara Pfitzer
Jennifer Kelley proudly displays her Michigan State flag. She majored in English with a minor in psychology. Michigan is also where she received her teaching certification.

Jennifer Kelley is not a new face to Dakota Ridge High School; however, she is relatively new to her current position as counselor secretary. Ms. Kelley started working at Dakota Ridge in March of 2019, just before the rise of COVID-19. 

Q: How would you describe your position here at Dakota Ridge?

A: I am the registrar counseling secretary for the counseling office. Before coming here — this is my first year in this position — I started out as the attendance secretary. So I did work in attendance up until just the start of this past year. I loved my role in attendance, but I felt that it was a lot of just listening to messages and punching things into the computer. Here in my new role, something is different every day. It’s crazy busy. I love getting to talk to parents and kiddos in person. I get to see myself as kind of a face for the counseling department. So I try to put on a happy face and welcome all who come in. 

Q: What has been your favorite part of your position so far?

A: It’s just getting to talk to people in person, you know? In attendance you would listen to that message line day in and day out, for hours at a time. So I love that kids come in with random questions. It keeps me on my toes and the day flies. I love the variety too. 

Q: What’s your least favorite part of your current position?

A: I don’t think this is a reflection of the position, more just that I am so new to it. There are times that I don’t feel 100% sure that what I’m doing is right, and the person whose shoes I’m filling was here for a number of years, and so well liked. I loved her as well. So there’s that fear I have that I’m doing as good a job — or trying to — as she did, and not let people down. It’s not so much with the position but more with me needing to get comfortable with what I’m doing. I think it’s going well so far. For the position itself, it can be frustrating at times when parents don’t respond. Right now we’re trying to collect registration forms from incoming kiddos, so, you know, you email these parents, you call these parents, and sometimes it takes a lot of follow through to get things back when you need them back. But, you know, they’re busy, too, so you try to keep that in mind and just keep trying. 

Q: What did you do before working at Dakota Ridge?

A: Prior to Dakota Ridge I was in Denver Public Schools for five years, and I was at Littleton High School for one year. Before working in the schools, I worked at a camp back in Michigan. I worked my way up from counselor, to canoeing director, to working in their front office doing registration. So that was my life prior to being in the schools, but I’ve been working in the schools in the Denver area for 11 or 12 years. 

Q: What was your position at Denver Public Schools and Littleton?

A: In Denver Public I was principal secretary for five years, and then I was at Littleton High School. I was actually principal secretary there as well. 

Q: If you could pick any position at this school, which would it be and why?

A: I love the one I’m in. I would keep it. Personally, I’ve got a little one at home, he’s a second grader. I love that, when you work in the schools, you have the same time off as your kids. Gosh, I just love this role, getting to talk to parents, talk to more kiddos. In attendance I didn’t really have TA’s [teacher’s assistants]. I love that here I get to have TA’s again. I was a teacher for a little bit out of college. I don’t miss that because of the workload I had. I missed being in a school setting, so I feel like this role as secretary is the best way to fulfill that need still. I don’t have the workload that the teachers do, and I get to leave at the end of the day and go home and be with my kiddos, but for eight hours I get to be here doing what I went to school for, really. All I wanted to do was work with high school aged kiddos. I love my role and love it here. 

Ms. Kelley can be found front and center behind the front desk in the counselors’ office. Before working as a teacher, Ms. Kelley worked at Camp Daggett.
“I started working there summers in college as a counselor, and worked my way up to be one of the canoeing directors, one of the assistant directors for about three years, and then worked in the office for about three years before moving to Colorado.” (Sara Pfitzer)

Q: What did you teach?

A: I taught high school English. 

Q: What do you like to do outside of school?

A: I have a little seven year old, he’s going to be eight in March, and he keeps me busy. He’s in hockey, baseball, tennis, swim, karate, so honestly I love just watching his sports. We are a big sports family too. Love the Av’s, love Michigan State Football — I went to Michigan State. So I’d say watching sports. We ski, love to get up skiing. We have a little place up in Crested Butte, so head there to ski when we can and hike in the summers. Just being with family, being with my little guy, watching sports, and getting outside when we can. 

Q: What do you hope to see happen at Dakota Ridge this year?

A: I hope to see kiddos just happy, right? You know, I feel I work sometimes more closely with the seniors than with other grades, and I wanna see them get to their next spot in life happily, whether it’s college or just the workforce. I think that last year we, the school, had to do a couple of budget cuts due to a little bit of a hit in enrollment, as all schools did across the district, not just Dakota. I would love to see our numbers get back up, and I think they’re in a good spot and trending for that way next year. 

Q: What is one interesting fact about you?

A: I can say the alphabet backwards. 

Q: What is your life motto?

A: I’ve always loved this quote: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others can’t keep it from themselves.” I guess it’s like a bit of a motto, right? The more sunshine you can bring to other people, the more sunshine you’re going to get in your own life sort of thing. I just try to do that as much as I can.

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About the Contributor
Sara Pfitzer
Sara Pfitzer, Editor
Sara Pfitzer is a second-year writer for the Dakota Ridge Cord News. She joined the team to further her skills in writing. Outside of school, Sara enjoys spending time with friends.

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