Spotlight – Mrs. Kelly, Kessler Elementary

Spotlight Interview

Where you were born? Northfield, Minnesota.

Where did your parents grow up? My dad was born and raised in Ohio and my mom was born and raised in Nebraska.  My dad was in the military.

Where did you grow up? Wheaton, Illinois.

Is Wheaton, Illinois a suburb of Chicago? Yes, it’s about 24 miles west of Chicago.

Where did you go to middle and high school? I went to Edison Jr. High, in Wheaton and Wheaton Central High School.

What year did you graduate? Wheaton Central High School Tigers, class of 1986.

Did you like high school? Yes, I loved high school. I played sports and was an honor student, so I had a good experience.

What sports did you play? I played softball and was a Varsity cheerleader.

What position did you play in softball? Shortstop most of the time, but I only played one year of it because the rest of the three years I did cheerleading.

What did you plan to do after high school? I wanted to be a lawyer when I was in high school and had a part-time job in a law firm as a bookkeeper. I realized that was not what I wanted to do.

Why did you decide being a lawyer was not for you? Lawyers do more research than they actually work with people.

Did you go enroll in college? Yes, I went to the College at Dupage, in Glen Ellen Illinois and then to Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.

What classes did you take in junior college? I started with criminal justice because being a lawyer was still on my mind.

What made you change your mind about being a lawyer? I had a professor I really liked who had been a defense attorney, a prosecutor and a police officer. He taught law and justice and was able to give us kind of a look each role and I fell in love with being a police officer.

Did you change your career path to law enforcement? Yes, I went to school to become a police officer. I wanted to work outside where what you did was different every day.

What school did you earn your degree from? I graduated with an Associates in Applied Science/Criminal Justice from College of DuPage and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology from Montana State University. I graduated with honors from both.

What took you from the Midwest to Montana? We grew up going to Colorado every summer. My grandpa built a cabin out there and I love the mountains. I was tired of the city and wanted to get away from home.

What did you like about the country? The wide open spaces and the horses. I love the mountains and all the outdoor activities. I always told myself I would go to college out there.

How did you pay for college? I grew up with my mom primarily and we didn’t have the money for college, so I worked full-time and went to college full-time.

What kind of jobs did you do during college? I worked in grocery stores, at a pizza place and at Montana State University. I was also a dispatcher for the campus police.

How did you choose Montana State? I could not afford the Colorado Schools and my girlfriend was going to go to Montana State.

Why was your girlfriend enrolling at Montana State? She was going to go to Montana State because her dad lived out there and so, I thought I would go too.

Was it expensive to pay out of state tuition? I looked at how much college cost and it was actually cheaper to go Montana State than it was to go to Northern Illinois State University.

Was it hard to be away from family and friends? No, I just made all new friends. I really wanted to get away from home (laughs).

What did you earn your degree in? Bachelors of Science in Sociology, with a criminal justice emphasis.

What did you do after college? I did an internship for the King County Sheriff’s Department in Seattle. My dad lived out here and I chose to do an internship out here because I could stay with him.

Where does your dad live? He lives in University Place, WA near Tacoma.

So you lived with your Dad and completed an internship? Yes, I lived with him while I did the internship. I had to work ten 40-hour weeks without pay. I was getting college credit for the internship.

What did you do for money? I also worked as a TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) person while I did the internship. So I got a little bit of extra money.

What did you do after completing the internship? As soon as the internship was over, I started testing for police departments and was offered two positions – one with Kent PD and one with King County Sherriff’s Department. I took the King County Sheriff’s Department job.

How long did you work on patrol? I graduated in the Winter of 1990 from college after the internship and then I was hired on in June of 1991. I worked on patrol for 8 years before I decided to retire to stay home with my children.

What is it like to be on patrol? I loved it. It’s something different every day, you get to go around to help people – obviously some people not so much.

What did you like the most about being a deputy? What I liked most is that it wasn’t the “same ole – same ole” every day. You’re not stuck inside.

What precinct did you patrol from? I worked out of the Federal Way precinct for the first five and a half years. Then I went out to the Maple Valley precinct, where I worked the east hill of Renton and Kent.

Were you ever on a stop or call where you were emotionally touched in some way? Yes, several. I remember a call with an older couple, she ended up passing before him. It was so sad because he loved her so much, you could just see it. He just held on to the bag afterwards when the funeral home was taking her. I wanted to start crying, and was thinking, “Okay, stop crying, I have got to be strong!”

Can you tell us a funny story? Oh, I worked as an undercover prostitute to arrest guys (laughs) for soliciting prostitutes.

What was arresting solicitors like? Well you don’t have to dress up in Federal Way. You can look like your old normal self.

You just throw on a pair of jeans? Yup, jeans and a tank top. Walk around areas like most people do, and you had undercover officers around. You’d go and take them into a room and there is an arrest team in the room. You arrest them in the room and wait until you arrest six guys, then you go get the jail van and load them up and ship them to Seattle.

Was it a little frightening getting into someone else’s car? We didn’t get into the car that was one thing, there are precautions.

How did it work? You walk in front of an area where there is a motel. We got a room for the sting.

Were you scared the first time you went undercover? No, not really. Its funny, the stories you get. One guy was celebrating that his wife having a baby that day and I just say “um.. yeah, interesting.”

It sounds like you loved being a deputy, is that right? I did love it, never thought I’d resign to take care of my kiddos.

Why did you finally resign from your job? I just felt it was something God asked me to do. My husband and I are married, and he never asked me to resign. More and more I was feeling the “tug” that I needed to stay home and raise my kids.

How many kids do you have? We have two. Shane is 24, and Bridget is 21.

Was it hard leaving your job? Yeah, it was tough. I really felt that was my calling.

Being a stay-at-home mother is a lot of work, isn’t it?  It was a hard transition because I was so used to being a deputy and now I was just a mom.  But, it was definitely rewarding and I wouldn’t have given it up. I wouldn’t change it for anything because I have really good kids and I have a really good relationship with my kids.

So the change was tough at the time, but rewarding? Oh absolutely, yeah.

How did you get to Longview? My husband worked for paper mills out of an office in Steilacoom. They sent him to the Longview mill. He was servicing chemicals to mills, Weyerhaeuser, NorPac and Fibre.

Did he commute to Longview?  Yes, he was commuting and I had already resigned from the Sheriff’s Department to stay home. We started looking for houses in Longview and eventually moved down.

What year did you move to Longview? We moved here in 2001.

Did your kids go to school in Longview? They did. Robert Gray, Mt. Solo and Mark Morris.

When did you go back to work? I went back when Bridget was in 1st grade because financially it was tough after I had resigned.

Did you volunteer in the schools? Yes, I was volunteering in my kids’ classes all the time and my girlfriend who worked at Broadway said, “Christine, you could be getting paid for what you are doing right now.”

Did you apply to work for the school district? Yes, I started subbing in the spring of 2005, and by the fall, I got a permanent position at Broadway. I was at Broadway for a year (2005-2006) and went to Robert Gray in 2006-2007. I moved to a secretarial position at Kessler in the Fall of 2007.

What happened next? The next year, Rita who was the main Secretary, went out on a medical leave. When she came back she didn’t want to be full-time, so she asked if I would job share with her.

When did you get back to Kessler? I’ve been back here for five years.

Do you think about going back into law enforcement? No, I love law enforcement, but it doesn’t give you the flexibility of being able to be involved with your kids.

Does your background in law enforcement help you as a school secretary? Yes, I think my background helped me deal with some of the families and situations.

What’s the best thing about your job? I think interacting with the kids, and it is different every day, like police work.

What’s the toughest part about your job? The toughest part is the multi-tasking you have to do when you don’t have an assistant. You’re having to type stuff up for the principal, they’re calling you on the radio because they need something, teachers are calling you on the phone because they need someone to go to the classroom, kids coming into the nurse, and she’s swamped or not there.

So what characteristics do great secretaries have? Being able to multi-task and I think my police work helped me with that. And I think being able to be positive. Doesn’t mean you’re always in a great mood necessarily, but you can fake it (laughs).

What would you say to the community about what it’s like in schools today? Well, I think technology has made it a lot different. Cell phones add difficulty for elementary schools.

Why do cell phones make things difficult? It becomes a problem because you get a lot more stuff that happens outside of school transferred into the school. Stuff happens on social media that gets transferred inside the classroom. Also, the violence in schools has escalated, unfortunately.

What’s your favorite food? (Laughs) I love ice cream.

What’s your favorite ice cream? Either chocolate chip mint or coffee flavored.

Do you like ice cream in a cone or a cup? Cone, a plain cone, or a waffle cone.

What’s your favorite color? That changes over the years, but primarily pink.

What haven’t I asked you that I should have? I have a wonderful husband named Sean and we will have been married for 25 years this June.

What else? I do a lot of volunteer work outside of the schools. I’ve worked for Longview Community Church, with high schools and middle school youth groups for about 15 years.

Do you enjoy being the head secretary at Kessler? I love what I’m doing, where I’m working and the people I’m working with. I love seeing the kids every day.

2019-05-30T10:38:00-07:00May 28th, 2019|

Staff honored at 2019 Chamber of Commerce event

Local educators and businesses were recently honored at the annual Pillars of Strength/Crystal Apple Awards presented by the Kelso-Longview Chamber of Commerce. Longview Public Schools award winners were Dr. Elizabeth West (Director of Special Education), Administrator of the Year; JD Ott (R.A. Long), Teacher of the Year; and Gail Wells (Monticello Middle School), Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 2019 nominees included secretary Jeanne Kerns (Discovery); teacher Diondra Beck (Mark Morris); teachers Mike Fajardo, Gerri Schooling, and Jennifer Godinho-Hefley, and paraeducator Christy Alumbaugh (R.A. Long); principal Scott Merzoian (Monticello); teacher Patricia Donovan-Hopkins (Columbia Valley Gardens); principal Noma Hudson and liaison Alisa Shipley (Kessler); teacher Mary Sundberg and paraeducator Deb Bergman (Robert Gray).

2019 Crystal Apple Awards nominees. Not pictured – Robert Gray teacher Mary Sundberg and R.A. Long teacher – and softball coach – Jennifer Godinho-Hefley who arrived late due to coaching the team to victory!

2019-05-02T14:39:10-07:00May 2nd, 2019|

Capital facilities bond proposal approved

At the April 8, 2019 school board meeting, the board unanimously approved the capital facilities bond proposal totaling $115 million. Projects in this proposal will touch every school and include:

  • Mint Valley Elementary School replacement – $43 million
  • Northlake Elementary School replacement – $43 million
  • Safety and Security upgrades for all schools – $4.2 million
  • Career Technical/Vocational upgrades at R.A. Long and Mark Morris high schools – $8.4 million
  • Memorial Stadium upgrades – $7 million
  • Large facility repair projects – $9.4 million

Find out more here.

2019-04-16T16:10:16-07:00April 16th, 2019|

Lake Sacajawea 20th Ave. Bridge Closed Thursday, March 21st

The 20th Avenue bridge at Lake Sacajawea will be closed from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. to vehicle traffic Thursday for a routine inspection, according to a City of Longview press release

The east sidewalk on the bridge and the paths around the lake will remain open to pedestrians, according to the city, but traffic will be re-routed and drivers are encouraged to use another route to avoid the lake during the inspection.

2019-03-19T15:52:08-07:00March 19th, 2019|

February Employees of the Month

Cascade Middle School Assistant Principal, Kristopher Chrisopulos is new to the district but has fast become a valued employee.  Over the course of the school year it has become very clear that he epitomizes the can-do spirit that is so vital to success with middle school students.  He has gone out of his way to develop a positive rapport with students and staff.  He looks for way to show people that he cares about and respects them, while still maintaining the highest standards of decorum and academic success.  His deft ability to create a positive atmosphere is motivational to both students and staff and makes school a great place to learn and work.


Kessler Elementary Secretary, Christine Kelly joined the district in 2005 as a paraeducator before becoming a secretary.  In her role as head secretary she is known for her calmness and ability to stay level-headed.  She can be on the phone, covering the nurse’s office, and talking to a parent at the desk all at the same time, and doing it with a smile on her face.  She knows the families and kids at her school and doesn’t get rattled when she is faced with a difficult situation.  She is an asset to her building and the district.

2019-03-20T14:00:30-07:00March 14th, 2019|

Family Resource Center opens at Monticello

Teachers and support team members across the district are seeing a growing number of kids and families who lack a stable food source and/or housing. To help the kids and families the district opened a Family Resource Center at Monticello Middle School. The resource center gives parents a place to get help and connect with food, housing, mental health or other services. It doesn’t matter which school a child attends – the family resource center is open to help them. The resource center was put together through donations and did not require district funds.

The Daily News wrote a front page story about the resource center that published March 2. This is another example of the district putting extra effort towards helping our kids be successful.

The Family Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 11 am and from 1 pm to 3 pm.


2019-03-08T14:24:07-07:00March 7th, 2019|

Application window open for Highly Capable student testing

Applications are now being accepted for the district’s annual Highly Capable Program identification process. To have a student evaluated for this program, parents/guardians give permission by completing the High Capable Permission Form and returning it to the student’s school. Permission forms are due Friday, March 15, 2019.

Cognitive Ability Testing (CogAT) will commence March-April 2019. The selection team will review student data April-May 2019. Testing results will be mailed in May 2019.

2019-03-04T17:15:11-07:00March 4th, 2019|

Elementary Science Day Camp offered

The R.A. Long Science Olympiad Club presents the 6th Annual Elementary Science Day Camp for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in Cowlitz County. There are two sessions to pick from –  Monday, February 18, 2019, 8am – 2pm (there is no school that day) and/or Saturday, March 23, 2019, 8am-2pm.

Students will explore a variety of scientific concepts including physics, chemistry, biology. High school students will run the experiments and offer hands-on lab activities and demonstrations.  Experiments include catapults, robotics, code breakers, lava lamps, footprinting, chemical reactions, lasers, and rockets.

The camp will be held at R.A. Long, Room 130; the cost is $49, payable at the ASB office during school hours or on the day of the camp. Please complete the registration form and return to R.A. Long High School ASB office during school hours.

2019-02-12T15:44:31-07:00February 12th, 2019|