Kelley’s Roots Led Her to Cedar Hill ISD

Nikki Kelley

(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Nikki Kelley’s experience in education has come full circle at Collegiate Prep Elementary School.

Kelley was a Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland student when current Cedar Hill ISD Superintendent Dr. Gerald Hudson was the principal there.

“He was my mentor, and now, I’m leading scholars in a district where he’s the superintendent,” said Kelley, the 2023-2024 Collegiate Prep Teacher of the Year.

Kelley credits Hudson with getting her on the right track during high school.

“I got in trouble in high school, and Dr. Hudson stepped in,” Kelley said. “He told my mother I was capable of more than I was showing. He worked with my family and consistently checked in with me.”

Kelley, who earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce while raising her daughter, was teaching Kindergarten in Mesquite ISD when she learned that Hudson had become Superintendent in CHISD.

“He’s someone that impacted my life as principal and also had an impact on our campus,” Kelley said. “I wanted to be part of the growth he was bringing to Cedar Hill ISD.”

Kelley now teaches Fifth Grade Reading at Collegiate Prep – the first step of the Pre-K through 12 Collegiate Pathway where scholars ultimately earn an Associate’s Degree when they graduate from Collegiate High School.

“I’m grateful for the level of accountability that I can instill in the scholars,” Kelley said. “I’m teaching them to take ownership of their learning. I’m able to help them grow academically and as individuals.”

In addition to teaching at Collegiate Prep, she’s also a parent of a fourth grader at the campus.

She’ll have her daughter in class, starting this August.

“I’m looking forward to it – I’ve missed a lot of class parties and field trips because I’m with my class,” Kelley said. “This will be a good opportunity to experience her final year in elementary school. She asked me the other day, ‘Should I call you ‘mom’ or ‘Ms. Kelley’. She decided she’d call me ‘Ms. Kelley’.”

Kelley said she was “surprised” to learn that she was Collegiate Prep’s Teacher of the Year.

“I knew I had been nominated, but I didn’t allow myself to get my hopes too high,” Kelley said. “I’m very honored that I was the teacher selected.”

Although she’s enjoyed teaching, Kelley plans on becoming an instructional coach, starting in 2025-2026. She would like to earn a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from A&M Commerce or the University of Oklahoma – which is near Oklahoma City (where she spent part of her childhood).

“I will miss teaching, but even though I’m leaving the classroom as a teacher, I’ll still be part of the classroom,” Kelley said. “I’ll be working with teachers who are in their first five years. I’ll work with them on implementing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and working on relationship building.”

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