Jonathan Kelley, a sixth-grade science teacher at Dempsey Middle School in Delaware, was recently honored with a Canvas Educator of the Year award.
The awards were presented to six educators nationwide, ranging from elementary school teachers to college professors, by Canvas Learning Management Platform, an education support software used by Delaware City Schools.
Kelley, who received the honor for middle school educator, said he was shocked when he heard the news.
“I remember not believing it,” Kelley said Thursday. “When I saw the email, I honestly thought it was a spam email and almost did not open it up. I remember deciding to open it up to see if I knew the winner. I was shocked to see my name.”
Kelley said he was nominated by then-Blended Learning coach Suzanne Williams. He added the criteria for the award was how well teachers redefine classroom activities to prepare students for careers and colleges; how does a teacher’s classroom experience improve achievement for at-risk students; and how does a teacher impact student engagement, curiosity or achievement.
“I had the opportunity to work with (Kelley) this year, and he is such a passionate and enthusiastic educator,” said Williams, who was just named the new assistant principal at Dempsey. “The criteria include how are teachers redefining the learning, supporting students, and building creativity and engagement. Jon did an excellent job using the multiple features of Canvas, which is our online Learning Management System.”
Williams added that last year, Kelley enhanced his class by using systems like Gamification, which uses badges to give students opportunities to earn rewards as they progress through coursework, and Mastery-Based teaching, which personalizes education to each student’s needs and prior knowledge.
“He provided ample hands-on labs and activities to support multiple ways of learning concepts,” Williams said. “Students worked and progressed through the class at their own pace. This kind of classroom structure allowed him to truly meet students at their individual level, provide individualized instruction, and build relationships with the students.”
Kelley said the award reflects the learning atmosphere at Delaware City Schools.
“I feel truly honored and humbled by the recognition,” he said. “This reward is a true reflection of the wonderful support system we have in place within Delaware City Schools. We are encouraged to grow professionally by trying new research-based instructional strategies. I am blessed to work with a kind and talented team.”
However, Kelley will not be teaching science at Dempsey this year after he accepted a position as a teaching and learning coach at Dempsey. He said Thursday that the position will allow him to share his techniques and ideas with other teachers.
“I no longer will have a classroom; however, in this new role I have the opportunity to work with the Dempsey staff as a coach,” Kelley said. “Next year, I hope to share some of the instructional practices that I used in my class, including using data to drive instruction, personalizing instruction to meet diverse learning needs, using technology to enhance student the student experience, and supporting new technology and instructional methods.”
Williams said she’s excited for Kelley’s new position at the school, especially after receiving the award.
“I was incredibly proud and excited for him,” Williams said. “I am really looking forward to seeing him in his new role as he works with the amazing staff at Dempsey.”