Meet the Teach: Shelly Kong

Shelly grew up in Central Oʻahu and graduated from Pearl City High School. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Family Resources from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa while working part-time at Queen Emma Preschool as a sub-aide in all the classes. Professionally, she's taught at India Education Methods (known as Growing IQ today) and rejoined Queen Emma Preschool five years ago as a full-time aide in the Aloha Kamali`i and recently moved to the Leialoha class working alongside her mom, Ms. Rene, as co-teacher.

This is Shelley.

What do you currently teach? What have you previously taught?

When it comes to preschool and early childhood education, you pretty much teach everything! Or, at least that's how it feels. I work with 4-year-olds, so the whole concept of school is brand new to many of them. Because of that, we're not only teaching ABCs and 123s, but also how to coexist with others, how to work together and how to share. Together with my mom and Ms. Mary, our aide, we facilitate our students learning and help them navigate through social situations, problem solving, scientific inquiry, language development and more.

How did you get into teaching? What made you want to pursue this career?

Pursuing a career in teaching seemed quite natural to me. My mom has been teaching for nearly 40 years so I had a great role model since the very beginning. Although I had other interests like art and photography throughout high school and college (and still do to this day), I've always had a place in my heart for teaching. It just seemed to make sense.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

What I love most about teaching is the spark you see in a child's eyes when they finally "get it." Whether it's learning how to write their name, what odd/even numbers are or how to share, when they have that "aha" moment, knowing that I had some part in helping them is very rewarding and an honor to witness.

What is a current goal and/or project you are working on (can me educational, professional or personal)?

I am currently trying to just learn and soak in as much as I can from all the wonderful educators around me. I am so fortunate to work with teachers who have been in the early childhood education field for longer than I've been living! Their experience and expertise are unmatched. I continue to dabble in photography and from time to time even do photoshoots for close family and friends. I also like to work photography into our class activities and programs whenever I can.

What is the best part about teaching at St. Andrew's Schools?

The staff and the children and their families we serve are just the best! The saying goes "it takes a village to raise a child," and it truly does. Year after year, we get to meet new children and families. It is truly an ever-growing ʻohana, and I am so lucky to be a part of it.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired every day by all the people I get to work with. My colleagues have a wealth of knowledge and experience that I tap into as often as I can. Also, working with a diverse population of children and families never ceases to amaze and inspire how and what we teach, too.

What is the best advice someone has given to you? Who was that person?

I've picked up so many nuggets of wisdom over the years, but I guess if I had to choose just one it would have to be, "If you're going to do something, do it to the best of your ability.'' My boyfriend often tells me this. He is outstandingly supportive of anything I do. He encourages me to try my best and knows how and when to push me. His advice helps me to grow and strive for more.

What is your wish for your students?

I hope that my students develop into lifelong learners who are forever curious and humble. I hope that they are unafraid to make mistakes and have the stamina and ambition to keep trying and the humility to acknowledge their mistakes so they can grow from them. I hope that they stay kind to each other and make positive impacts on the people they come across throughout their lives.

What is one interesting thing people may not know about you?

I am an ovarian cancer survivor. May 2020 will mark my 4th year being cancer free!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

My free time is spent with family and friends. On weekends we can usually be found at Target, Costco, and/or Walmart. If we aren't out, I love watching various shows on YouTube- Bon Appetit, Good Mythical Morning, and Lonefox - just to name a few. I'm also super into succulents now and am a proud succulent mama to arguably too many succulent babies.

Tell us about your family.

My boyfriend and I have been together since high school - about half of our lives - so it feels more like a marriage at this point. We don't have any children yet, due to my diagnosis and hysterectomy, but we're slowly looking into various alternatives and are hopeful to someday enjoy all the ups and downs that parenthood will bring.