Mrs. Kelley Completes Her Beloved Career


Kelley takes a break from her day at Hildreth Elementary school.

At the end of this school year, beloved Hildreth Elementary School gym teacher Barbi Kelley will retire, finishing her 33-year-long teaching career.

Though very excited to begin the next chapter of her life, Kelley has mixed feelings about her imminent retirement. She notes: “I thought I’d be more excited than I actually am, because I am sad to stop teaching [be]cause this is what I love to do.”

When asked what she’d miss most about teaching at HES, Mrs. Kelley could not decide on just one thing. She cites the children, staff, administrators, parents, and the PTO as factors that make teaching at HES tough to leave behind. She will especially miss bringing new experiences to HES students: “The major one thing that I’ll miss is seeing the joy on the children’s faces when they’re able to do something that they haven’t been able to do. That just brings me a lot of joy and happiness, to see that.”

Mrs. Kelley has had a very eventful career, leaving a mark on many. She has been nationally recognized for her unique physical education curriculum. Over the course of her 29 years with Harvard Public Schools, she has been asked to share her wisdom at various state conferences around the country, even as far as New Mexico. During her time at HES, she has also taught graduate courses in quality assessment in P.E. as well as educational gymnastics through Fitchburg State University. One accomplishment that she is particularly proud of is being named Massachusetts’ 2002 Elementary School Phys Ed Teacher of the Year. She then went further, being one of six teachers to present for the National Phys Ed Teacher of the Year award in 2003.

In addition, Kelley has been very involved in MAHPERD, the Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. She has been a leader in the organization for over twenty years, including a three-year presidency term in which she organized a 1600-guest conference.

Kelley also looks back fondly on her gymnastics summer camp program, which she ran for over twenty years. Perhaps her favorite part of the program was having students graduate from the camp, then come back as middle or high schoolers to volunteer to help run it. She says, “That was the best part of that, seeing the campers that I was teaching then turn into teachers.”

While her years teaching elementary school may be over, Mrs. Kelley never plans to stop teaching entirely and hopes to teach and coach swimming, something she is very passionate about. Kelley also plans on teaching graduate courses to train the next generation of physical education teachers. This new chapter in her life is a welcome and exciting one; Mrs. Kelley will do great things after HES.