Winner of Secondary Teacher Award Will Be SESP Convocation Speaker

Winner of Secondary Teacher Award Will Be SESP Convocation Speaker

Kelly O'Keefe-Boettcher

The featured speaker at the SESP Convocation on June 21 epitomizes the difference that a teacher can make in students’ lives. Kelly O'Keefe-Boettcher, an English teacher at Rufus King International School in Milwaukee, is a 2013 winner of the Northwestern University Distinguished Secondary Teacher Award, nominated by SESP senior Jessica Holden.

She is a teacher who can make a teenager feel like her classroom is the best place to be every day for 52 minutes, according to Holden. A senior graduating as a learning and organizational change major in June, Holden nominated O'Keefe-Boettcher because "there will always be a young, confused, unloved, ignored, hidden beauty and talent of a student that Ms. O'Keefe has the power to make whole again."

O'Keefe-Boettcher challenges her students to read and write critically while showing her caring and respectful attitude towards everyone she is in contact with throughout her day, according to Holden. “A teacher was able to reach out and provide me with different resources. She knew what my best was, so if I submitted anything less, she held me accountable,” Holden notes.

A Milwaukee Public Schools teacher for 15 years, O'Keefe-Boettcher teaches American Authors and International Baccalaureate English. She was the grant awardee for a $35,000 initiative that led anti-oppression education models for Rufus King High School. She was also named the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Black School Educators teacher of the year in 2009.

Her work on behalf of young people extends beyond the classroom. She serves on the Milwaukee Jewish Museum's Board of Educators and as an assessor for Alverno College, where she has done extensive portfolio work with student teachers and pre-service educators. She has served on the board of Today's Girls and Tomorrow's Women, and she is the faculty adviser for the Rufus King Friends of Islam and Jew Crew. Since 1987 she has led Interfaith dialogue through the Ulster Project.

O'Keefe-Boettcher received her BA and MA degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1987 and 2002, respectively, and her teaching license from Alverno College in 1998.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/16/13