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Former student, teacher now teaching side-by-side

A former Claymont Elementary student returned to the classroom as a kindergarten teacher this fall, teaching alongside the very same teacher who taught her nearly 20 years ago.

When former student Kelly Meyer returned to Claymont last year to complete her student teaching, kindergarten teacher Lindsey Wagner recognized her from the class of 2001-02.

Kelly Meyer [third row, center] in Lindsey Meyer’s kindergarten class in 2001-02 school year.

“I automatically connected Kelly as being my past student,” Wagner said. “Naturally, she’s all grown up, but still recognizable.” 

Meyer was thrilled to see Wagner, who after 20 years at Claymont, was still teaching kindergarten.

When a fifth kindergarten classroom opened up for fall, Meyer did not hesitate to apply at her alma mater.

“I was asked to provide three school districts for my student teaching position. Instead, I provided my top three schools,” she said with a smile. “Even after student teaching, it was a long shot I would get the Claymont position [as a full-time teaching position], but I applied.”

The dynamic duo poses in Lindsey Wagner's classroom during spirit week, celebrating Super Heroes.
Lindsey Wagner [left] with her former student turned colleague Kelly Meyer.

Wanger wholeheartedly supported Meyer as the new hire. Today, they serve on the same team and often are paired up for co-teaching and shared learning moments.

“Kelly is a natural. She has an amazing connection to her students. She opens her heart. She’s truly a rockstar in the classroom,” Wagner said.

Meyer said she recalled what it felt like to be a kindergartner and drew from that experience. Going into kindergarten, she had a lot of anxiety and need the extra nurturing and love that Wagner provided. She recalled her mom and Wagner working together to make it a great experience. Today, she follows Wagner’s example in her own classroom, with Wagner as a mentor, of course.

Meyer said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I’ve been told to do something you love and, for me, it’s being with children. Teaching called my name,” she said.

Meyer’s mom is a “saver,” so she was able to share some memories from her kindergarten past. Paging through a class newspaper that Meyer saved, Wagner reflected on the class of students she remembers well.

“When I see the photos, artwork, her journal – all the memories come flooding back. I specifically remember Kelly being a quiet and shy girl with a few moments of tears some days,” Wagner said.

The essence of kindergartners, Wagner said, hasn’t changed over the years.

“They all come in with about the same academic knowledge and abilities and innocence,” Wagner said, as she flipped through Meyer’s journal and commented on her penmanship growth through the school year.

They both said it was easy to pick up where they left off and are building a friendship, although Meyer admits she finds it difficult to call Wagner by her first name.

“With social media, it’s not unusual for a student to reconnect with a past teacher or for students to come back to say, ‘Hi’” Wagner explained. “But this is very special, something unique to Parkway to teach with a former student. It’s special and pretty amazing to have this go full circle.”

“I’m very happy and very lucky to be back at Claymont,” Meyer added.

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