From Teacher to CEO: 8 Questions with Kelly Tenkely

8 QUESTIONS is a series of interviews with teachers who have effectively transitioned their classroom skills into new and exciting careers in the field of education. We at Teach.com believe that teaching is a rigorous and diverse classroom in and of itself; the skills learned “in the trenches” can translate into an exciting portfolio of professional options. From education tech to consulting, the only “X factor” is where you want to go — our interviews hope to shine a light on the steps it takes to get there.

 

1. What's your name, location and current career path?

 

Kelly Tenkely, Colorado, Founder/Administrator/Architect of Learning of Anastasis Academy, CEO of 5Sigma Education Conference and The Learning Genome Project.

2. Where did you earn your teaching certification?

Colorado Christian University, Colorado

3. How long were you a teacher for?

I taught k-5 computers for 8 years and was also a technology integration specialist for the school. I helped teachers better use technology in the classroom, and also got to be with kids in my own classroom every day. Absolutely the best of both worlds! The best part was getting to seek the kids grow up. I had kids from kindergarten through fifth grade and got the privilege of being with them as they grew up. SO awesome. I loved being able to see the growth and journey of learning from the sidelines.

4. What was the most rewarding part of being a classroom teacher? What about classroom teaching did you find most challenging?

The students. Getting to know these amazing, unique individuals and being a part of their learning journey is awesome! Most challenging: Trying to work with kids who are amazing and unique within a system that expects them to conform to boxed curriculum. The world doesn’t need people who have the same skill set, we should foster the gifts/talents that each individual brings to the world.

5. Why did you decide to transition from classroom teaching to your current profession?

I left classroom teaching because I have auto immune disorders (RA and Reynauds syndrome), it was getting hard to walk and my Rheumatologist recommended I take the year off. In that year that I was away from the classroom, I acted as an educational consultant and was increasingly convinced that kids need a better learning environment, one that doesn’t see them as all having the same needs and treat them as cogs in a system. I started Anastasis Academy the year out of the classroom as well.

6. What is the best part of your current job?

The best part of my job is seeing students come alive again in who they are. It is incredible when kids recognize that they can be who they are and start to see their own gifts and talents and then thrive in those. Seeing that passion for learning every day is outstanding!

7. What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel in administration?

Flexibility! I think the number one take away from being in the classroom is the agility that was gained. As a teacher, you constantly have to adapt to whatever springs up. That has been a tremendous help as I started a school of my own, that agility is needed minute by minute!

8. What advice would you offer a current teacher who is looking to make a career change to outside of the classroom?

Don’t leave the classroom for more money, advancement of title, etc. The grass isn’t greener! If you choose to leave the classroom, please do it because the difference you can make in the lives of kids can be amplified outside of the classroom. We need amazing teachers! If you are frustrated by the system, be the change you want to see or find a school like Anastasis Academy where you can thrive.

Kelly Tenkely is an educational change maker. Kelly has been a teacher, technology integration specialist, educational consultant, prolific blogger, education reform conference organizer, and speaker. Most recently, Kelly imagined a new model of education, one that is honoring students as unique individuals. Kelly started a preschool through 8th grade school, Anastasis Academy, based on this model. She is diligently working on her latest invention, The Learning Genome Project, to make the Anastasis model of education available to all children. Catch up with her on her education technology blog, iLearn Technology or her education reform blog, Dreams of Education, and find her on Twitter at @ktenkely.

READ MORE FROM THIS SERIES:

8 Questions with a Principal: Jeff Herb
8 Questions with a Curriculum Specialist: Glenn Wiebe
8 Questions with a School Counselor: Andrea Burston
8 Questions with an Instructional Coach: Angela Watson
8 Questions with an Ed Tech PhD Student: Scott Haselwood

Looking to make a career leap of your own? A doctorate of education (EdD) can help bridge the gap. Click to learn more.