Sharing the power of language
New Teacher Feature
November 4, 2021
SEELEY LAKE – Katy Pellett has always been a self-proclaimed "English buff." She looks forward to bringing her love of the English language and storytelling to Seeley-Swan High School and helping her English and drama students understand the power of stories.
Pellett grew up in a military family. She has been reading, writing and telling stories to anyone who will listen for a very long time. Her grandmother Betty Sperry, who was a teacher from Mississippi, identified that Pellett was dyslexic.
"Reading was a way to deal with that and storytelling - I began to love it," Pellett said. "Struggling a little bit, it was the teachers that helped me, so I wanted to do that. Now I go and find my fellow 'struggle busses.' I want to make school easier for kids because it wasn't easy for me."
Prior to attending school, Pellett was a Wilderness Guide. She grew up in the country and loved dirt roads.
"I love dirt roads," Pellett said. "I've always wanted to be back on dirt roads and raise my kids on dirt roads."
Pellett moved to Missoula and graduated from the University of Montana (UM) in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Native American Studies. She said she is a big proponent in Indian Education for All (IEFA) and feels there needs to be an appreciation and respect for the original landowners by the youth. Next month, she will complete her Masters in English Teaching from the UM.
Pellett student taught last fall at Big Sky High School under English teacher Kim Lucostic.
"She is amazing and incredible," Pellett said adding how knowledgeable about teaching and how encouraging she was.
Following her student teaching, Big Sky High School hired Pellett as a long-term substitute. She worked as an intervention teacher helping around 200 students with credit recovery and those that were falling behind.
"I helped these kids get back out of deep waters," Pellett said explaining most of it was COVID-related challenges.
Pellett said she has Big Sky Principal Jennifer Courtney and her coach Seena Demmons to thank for ending up in Seeley Lake. Courtney previously taught at SSHS and Demmons teaches Lit 101, Writing 101 and is an instructional coach at SSHS.
"They knew I was right for Seeley and they made sure I got up here," Pellett said. "Big Sky got me ready in one year and I love it so far."
Pellett teaches English 1, English II and Drama.
"I went into teaching because I wanted my life to be meaningful and now I'm here doing what I love professionally," Pellet said. "It means everything to me. Teaching is not a job."
While there was curriculum in place, Pellett quickly realized it did not fit her or her classroom dynamic. Demmons agreed that she could write her own. Even though it is a lot of work for her as a new teacher, Pellett said hard work has never been a deterrent.
"I want to do that because I'm not going to watch [my students] drown in something that is not fit for them," Pellett said.
Pellett met Crissina Quinn, Dean of Students at Big Sky, who used to teach drama at SSHS. Along with utilizing curriculum from Quinn and last year's drama teacher Brian Bennion, she is looking forward to having the students write and perform their own script. She is excited to see all the spirit and potential of her drama kids when they take to the stage.
Pellett looks forward to bringing IEFA and a worldview perspective into the classroom. She also integrates social-emotional learning into her lessons.
"English is like an introspection on humanity. Humanity has these universal qualities that I think are absolutely beautiful, that the children aren't aware of, that put us all on the same footing," Pellett said. "I think them understanding that they are all on the same footing is really important."
Pellett said she appreciates the atmosphere at SSHS and how she feels treated like family with Principal Shawn Holmes and his wife Teacher/Librarian Michele Holmes putting everyone under their wing.
"It is so cool to once again be working for people that are in it for the right reasons," Pellett said.
Pellett hopes to find a place close to live so she has more time to get to know her students. She also looks forward to applying her strengths working with students that may need a little extra help.
"Sometimes kids get it right away and some of them need help learning those skills to get them there," Pellett said. "With my intervention background and personal background, I'm good at that."
Pellett continued, "They are the coolest bunch of kids on the entire planet and I love working with them. That is the main stress is being good enough for these kids [and giving them a meaningful education]. They amaze me everyday and make it all worth it."
When not teaching or writing curriculum, Pellett's favorite thing to do it hanging out with her four-year-old daughter Ellowyn and two-year-old son Edwin. She also loves being outside backpacking, fishing and snowboarding.
Pellett said, "I haven't been on dirt roads for a very long time and I'm very excited to go back to that lifestyle."