University of Iowa College of Education Associate Professor Timothy Ansley describes Clinical Associate Professor Mitchell (Mitch) Kelly’s passion for teaching as “contagious.”
“Each year, he has an amazing influence on students and on current and future teachers. No one on this campus has a greater impact on future teachers,” Ansley says.
His influence on future teachers and his personal, inspiring approach to his work have earned Kelly the 2012-13 Collegiate Teaching Award, the college’s highest honor recognizing excellence in teaching.
College of Education graduate student Dan Klavitter nominated Kelly for the award. He says Kelly, who teaches in the college’s educational psychology program, has an “unbelievable” ability to motivate students.
“I have been in very few classrooms where students are as actively engaged in their own learning as they are in Dr. Kelly’s classes,” he wrote in his nomination.
Lauren Rosa, an athletic training and elementary education student, says Kelly changed her life.
“His class was the first time I felt comfortable enough to participate; I was safe to make mistakes, to learn, and to grow as a person and a student,” she wrote.
Rosa is not alone in reporting a life-changing experience via Kelly.
Shelby Herig, a doctoral student in educational psychology, says his encouragement was a “deciding factor” that prompted her to pursue her doctorate.
“When I had class with Dr. Kelly I quickly noticed how motivated he is and how passionate he is about teaching,” Brittney Thorson wrote. “That motivation and passion is contagious and left me wanting to do my best not just in school but in every aspect of my life.”
Brittney Thorson, an elementary education undergraduate student, says taking Kelly’s class inspired her to change her major and pursue a teaching career.
“When I had class with Dr. Kelly I quickly noticed how motivated he is and how passionate he is about teaching,” she wrote. “That motivation and passion is contagious and left me wanting to do my best not just in school but in every aspect of my life.”
Kelly draws inspiration from his own challenges as the fifth of seven children raised by a single mother.
“The judgment of my earliest teachers was that I belonged in low-ability groups. I capped an undistinguished K-12 education with a low ACT score,” Kelly says. “It might have something to do with my older brothers shooting at me with BB guns instead of reading to me while mom was at work.”
Kelly attended the University of Iowa, walked-on the wrestling team, and later earned a wrestling scholarship. In the process, he found a powerful lifelong mentor in legendary Coach Dan Gable.
Gable hired Kelly as a graduate assistant, which allowed him to pursue his doctorate.
“To this day the privilege I feel at being a teacher is tinged with a bit of surprise, like found money,” Kelly says. “Whenever something good happens to me professionally, I call my wife, my mother, and coach Gable.”
Kelly says he recognizes that his impact on the future teachers in his classroom can multiply.
“At times it seems to me like a tree with an ever-expanding network of branches,” Kelly says. “This can be a daunting thought; I try to always remember that any care I take now can be perpetuated far into the future.”