Thursday, April 12, 2018

Sara Nelson

Raised by a teaching family, Kelsi Boltz, formerly Countryman, (BA ’08) found the inspiration to become a teacher while growing up in the school where her parents, also University of Iowa College of Education alumni, taught.

As a child, Boltz spent many hours playing in the gym while her parents worked or coached –first in the Lone Tree Community School District and later in the Sycamore Community School District in Illinois.

She also spent time with her parents’ colleagues, who eventually became her own teachers. She fondly recalls running around the hallways of a school, which sparked her passion for education.

“To many, these experiences may not seem like something that would draw me to a profession, however I think that it was the beginning,” says Boltz. “To me, a school has always been a place for friendly faces and opportunity.”

She continued to explore the idea of teaching through leading swimming lessons and volunteering in classrooms and at camps. When it came time for Boltz to choose a university and career path, she had no doubt in her mind that the University of Iowa College of Education was right for her.

Give now to the Teacher Leader Center to support future Hawkeye Educators. 

“I chose the University of Iowa for several reasons, but most of all because of the feeling you have when you arrive on campus,” says Boltz. “It is the welcoming faces determined to create an atmosphere of acceptance, opportunity and pride. I can still feel it today when I return to the area.”

Boltz now teaches 6th grade literature and science at Sycamore Middle School in Sycamore, Illinois alongside her father, Curtis Countryman (BS ’85), strength and conditioning coach at Sycamore High School, and her mother, superintendent of schools in Sycamore Community School District, Kathy Countryman (BA ’84, MA ‘96).

As a College of Education alumna herself, Kathy Countryman enjoys hiring Hawkeye Teachers in Sycamore schools, which has approximately 10 University of Iowa alumni on staff.

“Hawkeyes are poised and possess an outward passion for education,” says Countryman. “Their breadth of experience and ability to articulate their knowledge is outstanding. Iowa graduates also have an amazing work ethic.”

Both Boltz and Kathy Countryman relish the opportunity they get to engage students in their learning and make an impactful difference in their lives.

“Many careers do not give the opportunity teachers get on a daily basis to have an impact, both on students’ educational careers, and their lives,” says Boltz. “I think something that is overlooked is the opportunity we have to just be a ‘hello’ and a smile. Sometimes we lose or forget how important those small things are and as a teacher I get to say hello and smile at 160 students a day, and that’s an amazing feeling.”

Ream more of the College of Education's 2018 Alumni Magazine