Education

North Linn special education teacher makes career out of service to others

Kelly DeVore committed to helping students, even amid coronavirus concerns

Kelly DeVore, a high school special education teacher, is seen July 1 at North Linn Middle School in Coggon. (Rebecca F.
Kelly DeVore, a high school special education teacher, is seen July 1 at North Linn Middle School in Coggon. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Kelly DeVore has lived a life dedicated to serving others.

At 59, DeVore is one of the oldest teachers in the North Linn Community School District, where she has been a special education teacher since 2018.

Throughout her career, DeVore has gained a reputation for her willingness to help both students and fellow teachers. The coronavirus pandemic, however, has injected a level of uncertainty into how she’ll be able to best serve both groups this fall.

“With everything opening up, my anxiety is rising,” DeVore said, referring to the loosening of restrictions imposed in March to slow the spread of the virus. Statewide school closures were included as part of those restrictions.

“We still need to be cognizant of the things we need to do” to manage the pandemic, she added.

During the upcoming school year, DeVore will teach special education at the high school in Coggon, co-teach pre-algebra and serve as an adviser.

She also is heavily involved with the teachers union, serving on her local unit’s executive board and on the statewide political action committee.

But friends and colleagues say her dedication to service extends beyond traditional classroom activities.

Michelle Staudt, a teacher at Clear Creek Amana High School, taught directly across from DeVore at the school in 2015. She recalled needing to come up with a homecoming float for a class she taught. Only one person showed up to help: DeVore.

“She was on it,” Staudt said. “She was there to help me make it successful and brainstorm.”

DeVore is no stranger to being busy. A single mother of three, she finished her undergraduate studies at Mount Mercy University.

Then, while serving as director of the Jones County behavior disabilities program at Anamosa High School, she completed a master’s degree in special education at the University of Iowa in 2008. Shortly after that, she worked at KaBecca Education Services as an associate director, supporting off-site classrooms in districts across Iowa. She also worked as the sports editor for the North Linn News-Letter, covering a variety of sports including her personal favorite, high school wrestling.

Kayle Vale, a North Linn special education teacher, said DeVore quickly became a mentor because of her background in behavioral studies.

“She’s not afraid to put in extra time that’s not necessarily on her own stuff,” Vale said. “She will stay at school with me late, and I know I can go talk to her.”

After the months of school closures leading into the summer break, DeVore said she is eager to see everyone again. But the concerns about the pandemic — and her own potential exposure to the virus — linger. No matter what happens, she said she will do everything to provide a safe education for her students.

“I want to make sure my kids are OK, and we are doing the best we can,” DeVore said.

Comments: (319) 398-8372; alexandra.skores@thegazette.com

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