Teachers are Heroes: Kelly Mims's students work together to be bucket fillers and stay positive
Published on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber
A love for swimming resulted in Kelly Mims getting submerged in a love for children.
Mims grew up an avid swimmer and eventually led swimming lessons for younger children, and it made her realize: “I just loved teaching little kids.”
She also comes from a family with a lot of teachers, including her own mother.
All these influences brought her to where she is now, teaching third-grade at Devon Forest Elementary.
Mims is originally from Dayton, Ohio. She swam in college at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., where she studied elementary education. She swam with a classmate who was from the Charleston area, and Mims at one point joined her classmate in coming to Charleston for the summer. Mims coached Crowfield’s swim team, which Mims continued to do for nine more years during the summer.
After graduating college Mims made the move to South Carolina and has stayed ever since.
Mims started her teaching career in Berkeley County School District. She is in her 11th year teaching at Devon Forest Elementary, where she has previously been nominated for the school’s Teacher of the Year. She has always taught third grade – same classroom, too.
Mims described third grade as a “big year” for students; her students grow a lot during the year and really start to develop into their own personalities and gain more confidence and independence.
“It’s just fun to watch them mature a lot through third grade,” she said, adding, “And they still really like school in third grade, which makes it fun. You get to help them build that love for learning forever.”
Mims teaches all subjects, but said her favorite unit is one that focuses on rocks and minerals; usually the students get to go on a field trip where they get to “mine” for rocks.
“They just come alive and like the experience of it all,” she said.
She also loves teaching math; third-graders do a lot of place value lessons and they are also introduced to multiplication and fractions.
“I’ve seen kids who may have struggled in math before and then they get to third grade and they just bloom,” Mims said.
In addition to her undergraduate degree, Mims has a Master’s Degree in curriculum and instruction through Nova Southeastern University.
Her goal for right now is to keep doing what she is doing in the classroom.
“I like it too much – I enjoy the kids,” she said.
Devon Forest Elementary is in its third year as a Leader In Me school. The teachers serve on different leadership-based committees, and Mims serves on the Culture Team, which pertains to building morale around the school and promoting unity.
The school and its classes all have a lot of different goals as part of Leader In Me – there is a school goal, a class goal, a grade level goal, and students also have individual goals. Whenever goals are met, the Culture Team is big about giving shout-outs and throwing out celebratory ideas to further keep the positive momentum going.
Also as part of Leader In Me, the classrooms come up with their own “mission statements”. In Mims’s class, she and her students vow to “work together to be bucket fillers and stay positive.” The class mission statement is posted to one of the classroom walls, and everyone signed it.
The class recites the mission statement every day, complete with hand movements to go along with it.
“The kids love it,” Mims said.
Her favorite thing about Devon Forest Elementary is the family atmosphere, and its administration team.
“They fight for us, and fight for the kids, so it’s a very nice environment to be in,” Mims said.
Mims is married with a 2-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter. The family resides in Crowfield with a lots of pets – a dog, a turtle, a fish and two snails. In their spare time the family enjoys boating.