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Ka Leo O Kalani

The student news site of Kalani High School

Ka Leo O Kalani

Ms. Ota: Finding her Footing

In the 2023-2024 school year here at Kalani, new teachers seem to be flooding in. Kelsey Ota is a new special education teacher here, and an interesting person with an interesting background.

Ota started off as an EA, with the goal of becoming a counselor.

“I originally wanted to be a counselor, but once I became an EA I got to interact with students more personally and more often, and working with special education students made me want to become a SPED teacher”. Ota explained.

Shortly after this experience, Ota went to get her master’s in teaching. 

Whilst Ota found her happy place when it came to teaching, it’s not what she previously had her sight on.

“Honestly, I never wanted to be a teacher whatsoever. My mom was a preschool teacher and I always told myself I never wanted to follow her. I got my bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, more specifically I wanted to go into conservation, but I figured out that teaching is what I truly enjoy.” Ota elaborated.

When it comes to her career paths, Ota focused on what she felt complete passion and enjoyment towards, which is part of the reason why she didn’t go into environmental science.

“I realized that while I thought it was interesting, I never really had a passion towards it like I do towards teaching,” Ota said. “When I came back from Arizona after getting my bachelor’s, I started working with college students in a sustainability club, which is where my passion for working with students really started.”

This is Ota’s first year being an actual teacher, and she’s teaching inclusion classes, which have students that have various learning disabilities.

“I really like Kalani, so far it’s been giving me a sense of fulfillment.” Ota expressed. “Most of the students I’m working with now are the same kids that I helped when I was an EA, so it’s been really nice to see their growth and improvement.”

Whilst Ota teaches both Algebra 2 and geometry, she describes her class as fun, chaotic, and efficient.

“I always try to have fun with my students,” Ota said. “I try to be as close as possible with them without them viewing me as a friend. I want all of my students to be their true selves in my class and a place where math is fun.” 

Whilst this class might sound like it could be unorganized and hectic, Ota explains that she puts all of her effort into making sure that students leave her class learning something.

“I always give my students an exit pass or some kind of assessment before class ends so it’s ensured they’re leaving having understood the lesson,” Ota explained. “If I notice they didn’t do that great on the exit ticket, I’ll usually pull them aside and have a one-on-one talk with them, to try and better their understanding.”

Whilst Ota is loving teaching at Kalani, she’s not afraid of change and is actually looking forward to some. 

“I’ve been loving Kalani so far, but I can definitely see myself switching career paths later on in life. Ota admits. “Who knows, I may even go back to environmental science.”

But all lf that’s in the future. As it is now, Ota is enjoying Kalani and all it has to offer to its fullest.

“I’ve really been liking Kalani, but specifically getting to know my students and helping them enjoy class as much as possible.”

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Oliver Greenleaf
Oliver Greenleaf, Reporter
Oliver is a sophomore and a dedicated 80s music fan.

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