Kelly Salyer Ramer has clear memories of attending Westville Elementary School, fondly remembering the teachers and school staff who “knew and valued each student.”
Ramer, who earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education during Purdue University Northwest’s spring commencement ceremony, was recently hired as a preschool teacher with the Westville Little School – a school for three- and four-year-olds – and intends to become the teacher that students will warmly remember years after leaving her classroom.
The Westville native is the daughter of a first-grade teacher. “Growing up, I would help my mother get her classroom ready every school year, which I loved. So picking teaching as a lifelong career was an easy choice for me,” said Ramer.
Outstanding Future Educator Award
During her academic career at PNW, Ramer’s dedication earned her several distinctions. Her grades earned her placement on the Chancellor’s List for Academic Excellence each semester at PNW and she was invited to join Kappa Delta Pi, the international honor society in Education.
Ramer capped off her college experience by being named Outstanding Future Educator by the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
Earning grant funding
The PNW early childhood education program connects its students with hands-on learning experiences at area schools, libraries and community agencies serving children and their families. Ramer took on a number of projects and decided she could purchase the essentials for educational activities by applying for grants.
In total, she earned six grants; two from Indiana Campus Compact and four from the Strosacker Endowment.
One grant funded a project with the Valparaiso YMCA where she taught youngsters how to plant and tend a garden, along with the basics on healthy eating and making wise food choices.
These grants also helped Ramer to leave a positive legacy aiding in the acquisition of chairs for kindergarten classrooms at Edgewood Elementary in Michigan City. In addition, math manipulatives and S.T.E.M. exploration materials for Westville School were also acquired.
Supportive PNW professors
Ramer thanks Mary Jane Eisenhauer, associate professor of early childhood education, and Pratt for being “amazing mentors.” When Eisenhauer asked her to mentor PNW students who wanted to write their own grants to fund their projects, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I could call these educators with questions and had their support when I needed it. I learned so much from them on being an effective teacher.”
She also credited David Feikes, professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science and Jackie Covault, assistant professor of elementary education, with helping her overcome years of crippling test anxiety.
“I would become incredibly anxious. Everything I studied seemed to melt away,” she said. Their support and encouragement helped her maintain her 3.85 GPA and pass her required teacher licensing tests.
“Every one of my professors took time to care about my studies and help with the simplest questions. The one-on-one attention matched much of my previous experience at Westville Schools.”