By Anna Jauhola
There was little question of what Kalli and Bailey Peterson would choose for careers.
The sisters graduated from Kittson Central in 2010 and 2012, respectively, and have come full circle to teach the next generation of students in Hallock.
Kalli was hired as the new kindergarten teacher this year after the district made the decision to split the incoming kindergarteners into two sections.
Bailey will be teaching first grade and is looking forward to the more hands-on challenge of being in a smaller school.
“With Hallock being my hometown, I feel like I have an extra special investment in our community, because I was a Hallock kid too,” said Kalli.
The sisters grew up in rural Hallock, but were very involved in the school and community. Both were in 4-H and are still strong supporters of the leadership organization. Kalli was a hockey and football cheerleader, and also took baseball stats, while Bailey was in band, took football stats and played basketball. Now, both teach Sunday school at Red River Lutheran Church and Kalli is on the Kittson County Literacy Council and Fair Board. Bailey is looking forward to becoming more involved in the community.
In the elementary wing of Kittson Central School, Kalli’s and Bailey’s rooms are across the hall from each other. Asking the questions of how they’ll like the arrangement and whether they’ll get along elicited hearty belly laughs.
“No, we’ll be fine,” Bailey said with a smile. “And since we’re sisters, we know our boundaries too. We know when one of us just has to walk away.”
“It’s nice to be doing it together,” Kalli said of starting their first year teaching at Kittson Central. “It’s pretty cool actually.”
The sisters come well prepared for their positions. Kalli has two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota Crookston in elementary education and early childhood education, graduating in 2016. Over the last three years, she has taught kindergarten at Tri-County School in Karlstad.
Bailey has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s degree in youth development from North Dakota State University. Over the last three years, she taught third grade and then first grade in Fargo.
While they both had different experiences in their first years of teaching, the Peterson sisters agree on why they chose elementary education – to be good role models and create a spark for learning.
“Kindergarten is so important because you get to set the foundation for their entire school career,” Kalli said. “My No. 1 goal is that they love school. For a lot of them, this is one of their first experiences in a school setting. It’s important for them to be really comfortable and know that school is fun.”
Bailey said she’s always loved children and wanted to be helpful in their development. She chose first grade because the kids still like coming to school.
“I feel so many kids out there need a strong adult role model in their lives, and I felt I was a good candidate for that,” Bailey said, to fervent agreement from her sister.
It may come as no surprise to anyone who knows Kalli, but she chose to teach at Kittson Central simply because she loves Hallock.
“There really is just no other place for me, I’m pretty sure,” she said. “Our town has a lot to offer and it’s really special to be a part of all that.”
Although Bailey enjoyed teaching in the city of Fargo for three years, she knew she wanted to teach in a small school like Kittson Central.
“It never necessarily had to be Hallock, but this opened up and there happened to be two positions,” Bailey said. “It’s nice to be close to family and nice to be back where I came from.”
Both women are looking forward to integrating the community into their lesson plans. They hope to take a few field trips and bring local people into their classrooms, such as guest readers or professionals to talk about certain subjects.
The sisters also anticipate a few challenges, including navigating schedules and expectations in their new roles, and learning how everyone works together.
“Just learning a new school, even though it’s not really new, will be interesting,” Bailey said. “We’ve only been students here, not teachers.”
“That’s the thing that’s so crazy. We’re walking down the halls and I think, ‘I’m paid to be here!’” Kalli said. “And a lot of the high school teachers were our teachers.”
The duo say their personalities are completely different – Kalli is very outgoing while Bailey is reserved and quiet. However, they both seem to be solidly in their elements and determined to create the best possible year for their students.
“For me, to come home and be a teacher, it’s like a dream come true,” Kalli said.
“I’m just excited to get back and be involved,” said Bailey.
“Yeah, there’s no place like home,” Kalli added.
By Anna Jauhola