If you live in Wyandotte County, the name Kelly Kultala may be familiar to you. Kelly was a Kansas State Senator for the 5th District from 2008-2012. She also served on the Piper USD 203 School Board in 1999-2001 and 2006-2007 and the Unified Government of WYCO/KCK Board of Commissioners in 2001-2005. She also ran for Congress in 2014 as the Democratic candidate in the Kansas 3rd Congressional District. Kelly had always been interested in issues and politics, she just wasn’t sure that she would actually ever be a candidate for anything.
A few of the primary things Kelly was involved with as a Senator were serving on the Ways & Means Committee, which dealt with the state budget and the Transportation Committee, where they crafted a new transportation plan called T-Works to pay for new highway and bridge projects. During the legislative sessions she would live in Topeka during the week and be home with her family on the weekends. When she was not in Topeka she spent most of her time working, talking with constituents within her district, helping them when necessary and providing information about the issues.
One of her favorite things about working as a Kansas Senator was when she was actually able to help people. In reflecting she says, “I got to meet a lot of great Kansans.” Campaigning was definitely not one of her favorite things. “It is hard work and sometimes things can get pretty nasty, which is especially hard on your family.” In her time as a Senator, she was able to travel throughout the state and attend a couple of ‘Women in Government’ conferences in the Midwest. One of her most memorable experiences during her time as a Kansas Senator was when she was asked to run as the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor with the Democratic Governor candidate in 2010. She learned a lot during that campaign. Kelly does not have any plans to run for the Kansas Senate again; although, she may run for a local office in Leavenworth County where she now lives.
When asked about having any funny experiences, Kelly shared, “When campaigning you do a lot of walking door-to-door to ask people to vote for you. Sometimes people answer the door and they are not fully dressed. I’m not sure why they feel the need to answer the door without wearing any clothes or only wearing certain pieces of clothing and not others.”
Kelly was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, but mostly grew up in Ames, Iowa. She started college in 1976 at Iowa State University then left in 1978 to get married and start a family. In 1987, while living in Lawrence, Kansas with 3 small daughters, a house, a husband and a dog, she went back to college at the University of Kansas and graduated in 1990 with a degree in Political Science. Presently, besides substitute teaching, Kelly is realtor and once in a while does public affairs consulting. She loves to read and embroider newborn baby quilts for her grandchildren.
Kelly began substitute teaching with MHED in 2014. Her daughter is a 4th grade teacher in the De Soto School District, her sister teaches in the Gifted Program in the De Soto School District and one of her sons-in-law is a 5th grade teacher in the Gardner School District. They would tell her how hard it sometimes was to find subs, so Kelly thought she could substitute on a part-time basis to help out. She has always admired the work that teachers do every day. She hopes to help out wherever she can. Kelly enjoys subbing for all grades for different reasons. She particularly enjoys teaching American Government (of course) and loves to challenge high school kids to discuss and think about things outside of their immediate world. She finds that the elementary kids are always very helpful.
One of her favorite subbing memories so far has to do with a lesson she brings in her sub pack. “Sometimes I do a ‘How to Legislate the Kansas State Cookie’ exercise with the kids. We go through the whole process of writing a bill, following through the committee process, adding amendments based on how the class votes, etc. And at the very end I show them that only a handful of the class will actually be making the decision about whether the legislation passes or fails because only a handful of the class will actually register and vote. The kids are amazed.”
Kelly is very grateful to all of the schools where she has subbed because the office staff and other teachers have all been very helpful and supportive.
Thank you, Kelly, for all that you do for MHED and our schools and for being a great role model for our students!
Each month we will highlight one of our subs so that we can begin to get to know more of our team members. If you have an interesting talent or a great story to share, and you would like to be highlighted in one of our upcoming issues, please email us at email@example.com.