‘Miss Kelley’ is a Baldwin education icon
When it comes to Baldwin City graduates, there can be none finer than Katharine Kelley.
The 95-year-old Baldwin icon, who will be 96 in June, has a storied place in our local history. It's been a busy year for recognizing that around town and the latest version of that was at Baker University's graduation Sunday. Kelley was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by Baker President Dan Lambert. How fitting.
Somehow, Dr. Kelley has a certain ring to it and she's certainly deserving. Of course, she's a Baker graduate, too, so it only makes sense. She graduated in 1932.
But, Kelley's educational roots go much deeper than that throughout Baldwin lore. She went to Coal Creek School and is a 1928 graduate of Vinland High School, which, of course, no longer exists.
However, she became a defacto graduate of Baldwin High School when the Vinland school was consolidated into the Baldwin district in 1965. Kelley was honored earlier this month at the annul BHS Alumni Banquet as "Teacher of the Century." Again, how fitting.
The BHS alumni were paying homage for the four-plus decades she spent teaching elementary school in and around Baldwin. That's where she became known by what many people still call her -- "Miss Kelley."
First, it was Clearfield School where she taught from 1934 to 1936. "Miss Kelley" was also the janitor. Next stop was Hopewell, where she taught from 1936 until 1940. But, she didn't have to use a broom.
That's also when her teaching career landed her in the Baldwin City limits. She taught fourth grade at Baldwin Elementary School for five years, then moved to fifth grade in 1944 where she spent the next 30 years.
During that span, "Miss Kelley" taught 1,002 Baldwin area grade schoolers. What a legacy that all represents in Baldwin education.
Of course, that's not all she's done. She's worked tirelessly on preserving and promoting the Santa Fe Trail. She has spent countless hours at the Baldwin City Public Library preserving the area's history. She's been honored for both services and the list of her accomplishments goes on and on.
People wonder what an "icon" is sometimes. "Miss Kelley" is the perfect definition for Baldwin City.