Dedication, service, mystery, memory-keeper; these are just a few of the words you could use to describe 2nd Grade Teacher Karol Kennedy.
Born in Gary, Indiana, Kennedy moved around during her childhood, and when she was 15, her family finally ended up in Valparaiso. Throughout her childhood, her dedication to teaching was formed.
“I was the kid that struggled--it didn’t come to me. I had two sisters that were really smart. I was the kid who always had to go to summer school. I had a teacher, Mr. Ostram, who made me believe that I could do it. I’ve just always wanted to be a teacher, since third grade,” said Kennedy.
The struggles she faced in school have helped her recognize those students who need extra help.
“I wouldn’t change anything. My struggles make me stronger. I get it when kids have issues. You find the things that you’re good and do those. Always strive to do better the next day. Give 110%,” said Kennedy.
With a lifetime of teaching, all but one year at Cook’s Corner School, the dedication Kennedy has for the children she works with is truly inspiring. Being a teacher for more than three decades in the same school has given Kennedy the opportunity to see multiple generations come through. She loves seeing the children of former students in her classroom as it reminds her of the fond times teaching their parents.
Kenendy also enjoys getting little notes of encouragement from the students and tucks those away to read on days when things get difficult.
“All of my notes and cards, I have a box and I still have them all,” Kennedy said.
As she walks through the halls, Kennedy can point out the special pieces in the school and the story behind them. She has watched the school grow and change, but keeps the memory of what it used to be.
Storing memories is something Kennedy thoroughly enjoys and as a scrap-booker, she finds importance in organizing and keeping those memories for future generations.
With a passion for genealogy and ancestry, Kennedy spends much of her free time researching her family tree. She takes time to learn the stories of her family. She enjoys the mystery of genealogy and the excitement of putting the pieces of history into place.
“It’s my mystery,” said Kennedy.
Growing up, Kenedy was an active member of the Girl Scouts. When her daughter and son were old enough, she encouraged them to join the Girl and Boy Scouts. She also ensured that they would be a part of the local 4-H club, a program that teaches children how to give back to the community. It was also an opportunity to encourage more activities out in the community to see what it has to offer.
“It sets them up. It does more than what sports can do for you. It’s a community, it’s giving back,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy was a swimmer for Valparaiso High School when she met her future husband, a VHS diver. She knew she would marry him, and several years later, she did. She and her husband have been married for more than 30 years and have two children and seven grandchildren.
Kennedy is also a fan of traveling and has taken many trips with her good friend and fellow co-worker. And while she enjoys organizing paperwork and files, she leaves all the organization of the trips to her friend. It’s her favorite way to see the world.