Meet Kelsi Quicksall-Jones, Beachside Elementary's Teacher of the Year

Kelsi Quicksall-Jones is in her sixth year of teaching.

In 2020, Kelsi Quicksall-Jones was named Volusia County's Schools Art Educator of the Year. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
In 2020, Kelsi Quicksall-Jones was named Volusia County's Schools Art Educator of the Year. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
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Kelsi Quicksall-Jones aims to make all of her students embrace the concept presented by Pablo Picasso: Every child is an artist.

His quote hangs in her classroom, and at the start of every class, she greets her students by saying, "Hello, my most amazing artists." And at the end of each class, the students say their art "mantra," borrowed from fellow art educator Sarah Krajewski: "I am positive. I am creative. I am mindful. I am amazing. I am an artist.”

"I repeat these phrases and mantras each week to instill the belief in my students that they are capable of anything they put their minds to and are artists," Quicksall-Jones said. "Even if they find that art isn’t their niche later on in life, I hope that I have given them positive memories of elementary art class and a positive outlook on the arts."

The Beachside Elementary Teacher of the Year originally pursued a major in journalism at the University of Florida, having enjoyed editing for Seabreeze High School's newspaper while in school. She was doing well in her classes, but she found it wasn't quite the right fit for her. Her boyfriend — now-husband — told her she reminded him of his elementary art teacher, and asked if she'd ever consider becoming one.

Quicksall-Jones hadn't realized this could be a career option for her. Once she knew, she pursued it and graduated with a bachelor's in art education. She's now in her sixth year of teaching.

"I wouldn’t teach anything else — my passion lies in advocating for the arts and giving my students a time and place for creative freedom and expression," Quicksall-Jones said.

In 2020, she was named Volusia County's Schools Art Educator of the Year.

She was told that the first year of teaching would be the most difficult, but Quicksall-Jones said teaching has only gotten harder due to the national teacher shortage. But, she takes everything one day at a time and said she focuses on what her students need, and then what she needs. This has helped her stay motivated through several challenges — teaching remotely during COVID-19, the Osceola and Ortona Elementary merger (which created Beachside) and now, moving to the new Beachside Elementary campus.

"When I look back, it's hard to believe I ever considered being anything other than a teacher," Quicksall-Jones said. "School has always been my happy place and I hope I have created that happy place for my students, giving them something to look forward to every day."

When she's not in the classroom, Quicksall-Jones is making her own art, reading, or embracing her "Disney adult" at the theme parks. 


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