CSMCE | Profiles

Kristy Kennedy talks to two students

Kristy Kennedy

Primarily Math

Kindergarten Teacher
Kloefkorn Elementary, Lincoln Public Schools

After completing Primarily Math as part of Cohort 3 LPS in NebraskaMATH, Kristy Kennedy now understands why she did not love math as a high school student.

“I never gained a deep conceptual understanding of the many big mathematical ideas, and I did after Primarily Math,” Kennedy said. “I had simply relied on the procedural understanding of applying a formula to specific problems.”

Now, Kennedy is teaching and modeling these “big” mathematical ideas to her peers at Lincoln’s Kloefkorn Elementary School in an informal coaching role.

“My colleagues know that I have had extensive training in the teaching and learning of mathematics through Primarily Math and frequently seek my guidance and have conversations about various lessons,” Kennedy said. “I partner with teachers by observing their lessons, plan lessons with teachers while discussing objectives in-depth, and invite other teachers into my own classroom to observe me teaching math lessons.”

Kennedy also assists teachers in developing their personal Math Talk Action Plan, part of the Math Expressions curriculum.

Academically-productive classroom discussions about mathematics, otherwise known as Math Talk, have many benefits. Math Talk assists in developing student understanding of mathematical ideas and creates a collaborative classroom culture where students contribute to the success of others.

“Kristy has played an integral role as a leader within her team, building and the district,” said LPS district math coach Susie Katt. “Kristy’s desire to learn and grow as an educator, along with her grace and kindness, makes her a leader whose work truly makes a difference in the lives of our young children.”

Kennedy began her eighth year of teaching in 2012 at this brand-new school. She chose to follow then-principal, Sue Braun, and assistant principal, Kristi Schirmer, from Rousseau Elementary to Kloefkorn due to their “amazing leadership.”

Braun said it was a “conscious decision” to ask Primarily Math teachers to come to Kloefkorn due to their additional training.

“Kristy has the exceptional ability to take students to a deeper level of understanding mathematically. She provides kindergartners with such a solid base on which to grow their math knowledge,” Braun said.

Originally from Schuyler, Neb., Kennedy has always loved helping children learn. After experiencing this program and its strong support system, her confidence in her own mathematical skills has grown to a greater confidence in her teaching of mathematics.

“I firmly believe in the power of a professional learning community to partner with one another in assisting all teachers and students to develop into mathematical thinkers,” Kennedy said. “A strong partnership must have trust, perseverance, and commitment in order to have a powerful impact on student learning.”