Patty Kissell began her career teaching Kindergarten in New York State in 1979. After teaching there for a few years she moved to Vermont to get her M.Ed from St. Michael’s College. She then taught in the Grand Isle School District as a special educator. After a few career changes, including being a police officer and working in the business world, she reentered education as a special educator at Edmunds Middle School. The next year she returned to her true passion: teaching in the classroom at C.P. Smith School. She has been teaching in Burlington for 33 years.
I’d like to see future educators, not only build their teaching skills, but also share their time in supporting their profession.Patty Kissell
Words from Patty:
What I will miss: What I will miss most about teaching is the magic that happens when I am in my classroom with my students. I will miss the excitement of the learning that happens every day. I will miss the random acts of kindness and the feeling of community that I have shared with my students. And finally I will miss reading aloud wonderful books and always stopping just at the good part, placing the bookmark quietly in the book and saying “to be continued…”
What I am proudest of: I am proudest of the ability I have to build strong communities with my students. That strong community overflows and builds positive relationships with their families. I have always believed that teaching children all the core subjects is extremely important but equally important is the ability to help children learn empathy, understanding and what a sense of community is. One of my favorite sayings is –“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
Advice to pass on: I could write a book on advice to future educators but I won’t, maybe when I’m retired and I have time. Seriously, I would like future educators to remember that what they do every day shapes the future. I believe educators need to advocate for their profession. I’d like to see future educators, not only build their teaching skills, but also share their time in supporting their profession. In 1998, 2001 and 2003 I was awarded the BEA People’s Choice Awards for Outstanding Activist and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I also served for many years on the Local Standards Board assisting educators with their professional license renewals. Find a place where you can support your profession in a positive and proactive way.
Future Plans: I am looking forward to having no plans and seeing where retirement takes me. I want to hike, kayak, cruise in my retro convertible and spend time at the beach in all seasons. I’m looking forward to traveling and spending time with my incredible husband and family.
Words from Colleagues:
The first time I met Patty Kissell she was picking up her students from the library. She greeted them and then said, ” Alright class, Sparkle!” And they did. Patty’s teaching is a tremendous mix of time, creativity, energy and love. Remember when Kamala Harris spoke of how her 1st grade teacher had a lasting impact on her life? Patty Kissell is a teacher whom countless students will recall in a similar way. The ripples of her work in the classroom and the self esteem and caring she fostered in her students will extend long past her teaching career. Beth Lane
When I was hired late in the summer of 2019, I was greeted with a large unpacking job as the classroom had moved. When I was welcomed by Patty, she was thrilled and excited to offer me boarders! “You need borders. I have so many!”. For the life of me, I could NOT figure out what she was talking about! Coming from CVU, I hadn’t given thought to bulletin board borders in about 15 years (since I had last been in an elementary school). I am king of a minimalist, but I happily took them. But, more importantly, I was eternally grateful for the kindness, the welcome and the support.
Returning to teaching after a 6 year hiatus was daunting, and Patty made we feel a part of the school immediately. More importantly, I was INSPIRED by her attention and resilience in a year which brought more change and unexpectedness than any of us have ever experienced. Patty gave 110% to her class during COVID and I admire her courage and bravery.
I will miss Patty’s passion in the building and it is impossible to fill her shoes. It is my sincere wish that after 33 years of taking care of others, she will now take care of herself and her soul! Emily Mitchell
Patty Kissell has every toy, knick-knack, storage container and lesson plan from everyone including her great aunt’s sister’s cousin’s brother twice removed on her ex-stepmother’s side from 1951. Not that she will ever read it, or use it, but she has it just in case that right moment shows up. Patty is always prepared and ready to help the kids! Students come out of Patty’s room eager, excited, always chatting about the latest and greatest thing going on in Patty’s classroom.
Occasionally though, Patty is missing something, or forgot something, or needs a little bit of help with something. I have had the pleasure of teaching across the hall from Patty and let me tell
you, I hope you are ready for a story involving feelings, secondary and tertiary characters, sub-plot lines, conjecture about characters’ motivation and thoughts, and health concerns when Patty needs coverage in her room for 30 seconds so she can make a photocopy! A true storyteller. Dave Nacmanie
Patty Kissell is an exceptional person and teacher. She is a tender-hearted woman that has always put the needs of her students above her own. She always listens and never judges. The dedication, patience and encouragement to all will never be forgotten. A true friend for life! Kim Hamlin
For over 30 years, Patty has taught, inspired, guided, and nurtured hundreds of children in the Burlington School District. She has been driven not only by her desire to educate students academically, but also by her commitment to the principles of inclusion, resilience, diversity, compassion, hard work and fun.
The entire C.P. Smith community has benefited from Patty’s kindness, wit, honesty, wisdom and passion for learning and growing. We are deeply grateful to have felt her energy, dedication and love. Thank you, Patty! Maureen O’Brien