Kelly Kulsrud

Kelly Kulsrud, our new director of reading proficiency, is a former middle school math teacher. What then, is she doing in a job focused on young children’s language and literacy development?

“My middle school students lacked the literacy skills – reading, listening, speaking and writing,” Kelly testified before the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week. “They struggled to comprehend the math text. They struggled to contribute to the community. They struggled to succeed academically across all content areas. And they lacked the self-confidence and motivation to continue learning. These adolescents were falling through the cracks.”

Now, as director of reading proficiency at Strategies for Children and our Early Education for All Campaign, Kelly guides our statewide effort to ensure that children in Massachusetts become proficient readers by the end of third grade.

Prior to joining SFC in August, Kelly earned her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a concentration in language, literacy and literacy coaching. At HGSE, Kelly studied with Nonie Lesaux, Ph.D., author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” the 2010 report commissioned by SFC that guides the reading proficiency campaign. Kelly was awarded the graduate school’s Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award.

While working as a middle school math teacher at the Santa Monica Alternative Middle School House for three years, Kelly initiated and led district-wide professional development programs designed to help elementary and middle school teachers improve students’ literacy across the disciplines. Kelly began her career as a second grade teacher at the Horace Mann Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where for three years she taught an inclusive classroom comprised of native English speakers and English language learners. She represented Horace Mann on the Teachers Institute Literacy Leadership Team, a district-wide team of elementary school teachers working to advance the teaching of literacy. She also mentored students from American University pursuing master’s degrees in education. Throughout her teaching career, Kelly worked with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. Kelly has also worked as a professional development facilitator at summer institutes across Massachusetts focused on training secondary school teachers to improve adolescent literacy in all content areas.

Kelly graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and math.

“My teaching experience and graduate studies,” Kelly told the ESE board, “underscored the importance of aligned collaborative efforts to promote language development and literacy, beginning with early childhood and proceeding to the primary grades and beyond.”

We are delighted to welcome Kelly to our staff and delighted to see her put her expertise and experience to work on behalf of young children and families in Massachusetts.