Sarah Kelly: Math Teacher, Baker, and Disney Connoisseur


In early September 2010, Sarah Kelly sent in an application for a teaching position at Moorestown Friends School, a week before the new school year. “I went in two days later for an interview. Left at one o’clock, and by three o’clock they had offered me the job. I started the following Monday and stayed there for 9 years,” she says. 

Sarah moved on from MFS to FSS in 2018.  She explains, “It was really exactly what I needed at the right time, right place. Friends Select was a natural progression when I decided I wanted to look for something that had a little bit more leadership with it.” 

With passion and elation, Sarah has been dedicated to teaching mathematical concepts to Friends Select students for 3 years. Along with her near-perfect handwriting and vibrant marker colors, there is much more to appreciate about Sarah than just teaching-related attributes.

Sarah grew up in Scranton, a small “Neighborhood town.” From afternoons spent riding bikes and getting candy at the local store to buying Rita’s water ice and playing capture the flag, “It was very much your traditional small-town neighborhood. Growing up with an older brother and sister, Sarah attended the local catholic school and was part of a class of 17 kids up to 8th grade. “I still have two of my best friends from Kindergarten. Pre-pandemic I used to see them a lot more often.”

An incident that influenced Sarah throughout child and adulthood was the loss of a close family friend. “The way in which I interact with my siblings and the relationship we have with one another has been very much defined by that loss at such a young age,” she says

Growing up, a handful of teachers heavily influenced Sarah’s decision to become a teacher. “My grade school teachers were phenomenal and I credit them for who I am today. Especially my upper elementary teachers,” she says. Additionally, there were many influential math teachers who “made me love my subject area and gave me the desire to pursue it”. Curiously, growing up, Sarah’s favorite class was English. “Diagramming sentences was my favorite thing in the world to do. In grade school I got the gold medal in English.” If Sarah couldn’t teach math she would teach English.

Sarah also has a passion for coaching swimming, and coached during her time at Moorestown. Sarah stepped into the role and coaching swimming has been something that has stuck with her. “When I got to Friends Select, there was also a need for someone who could step in and help out and it kind of evolved into where it is today”.

Sarah’s work as a teacher, coach, and community member has changed significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “This year and a half have been hands down one of the most difficult of my teaching career,” she says. Though this year has been difficult, she thinks it has been beneficial in many ways as well: “This year has taught me about how to properly use technology and the different ways I have never thought about teaching”. 

Several students appreciate Sarah’s presence as both an educator and a trusted adult at Friends Select. Former student Annalise Di Cicco explains, “She has taught me to look at the material rather than the grade. She is very unique in that she manages to make math fun even on Mondays.” 

Sarah is very grateful to her co-workers for coming together and helping support each other. According to Spanish teacher Cynthia Vainstein, “She is the best! She is very collaborative, someone that you can count on and trust. Sarah inspires me and I learn a lot from her”. Cynthia has worked in the same room as Sarah for the past two years. “We laugh a lot, she has great energy and is happy all the time,” says Cynthia. 

Additionally, Sarah is particularly grateful for the students she teaches with the “patience and grace” which they show her. “You all show up with positive attitudes, don’t make me stare at black screens all day long, you participate, and write.” Upon entering hybrid learning, Sarah has observed and found it interesting how many students thrive in a virtual setting. Most importantly though, “This year has taught me a lot about patience, compassion, and about going with the flow,” says Sarah. 

During Covid-19, Sarah has thoroughly enjoyed baking and decorating baked goods. Her love for baking originates from baking with her grandmother.”My grandmother used to bake with us all the time. Baking kind of became something I shared with them and reminds me of the time I got to share with them.” More recently, Sarah has been using baking as both an outlet to clear her head and for a fun leisurely activity.  

Sarah also loves everything Disney-related. “We had all the Disney movies growing up. My sister and I would pretend to be princesses”. Sarah’s Aunt was a prominent Disney travel agent who specialized in all of their locations, resulting in frequent visits to Disney theme parks [Walt Disney World]. “I feel like it is such an escape from the real world. Sometimes it is nice to just pretend you are in a different place for a while,” says Sarah.

Sarah with her nephew.
One of Sarah’s cakes.