After working at Sequoyah off and on for the past ten years, Kelsey Wetmore has left her role as Director of Daycare & After School Activities. Her last day was on Friday, September 29. Wetmore left the school to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology.
Prior to becoming the Director of Daycare & After School Activities, Wetmore was the Backyard Associate Teacher, teaching alongside Renee Brody, the Backyard’s Lead Teacher. Wetmore taught Backyard for two sets of two years. Wetmore also helped create Sequoyah Summerhouse, Sequoyah’s new summer program that finished its first year at the end of August.
Wetmore does not know where she will go to get her Ph.D. yet, because program researching and applying “takes a whole lot of time and energy” and her job does not leave her enough time to do a “good job” at that. As explained by Wetmore, “cognitive psychology is different from any other type of psychology. It’s kind of the marriage of neurology or brain science and its practical application, like how the brain actually forms memories.” Wetmore added, “brain science has always fascinated me.”
Before working at Sequoyah ten years ago, Wetmore worked at coffee shops and as an office manager for a printing company. She left that job and moved to New Zealand, where she worked as an apple picker, “which was great fun and a wonderful workout.” In the summer of 2007, Renee Brody, whom Wetmore knew because Brody was her teacher, asked Wetmore to “help her close out the class from the previous year.” Wetmore said Renee and her “worked together so well that she asked me if I would be interested in being her assistant.”
The first time Wetmore left Sequoyah was in between the two times she worked in the Backyard. She started to pursue a master’s degree in opera at Cal State LA while she was working in the Backyard, but realized she had to be a full-time student so she left Sequoyah.
When the economy crashed in 2008, Wetmore noted that Cal State LA’s music program, which previously had “a really amazing music and opera program,” also “crashed.” The crash made her withdraw from the program because she “realistically [was not] able to get the class I needed to complete my master’s.” Wetmore said she started to think about a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology after she realized “the life of a professional opera singer was not really one that would work for me.”
Wetmore came back to Sequoyah to teach in the Backyard for two more years, to “get a little more information about working in education.”
While Wetmore has come back to work at Sequoyah multiple times in the past ten years, she “has spent as much time in direct education as I want to.” After her second set of teaching in the Backyard, she lived in Turkey for about two years and worked as a teacher and then as the program director for their English program. After these teaching experiences, Wetmore said, “I’m ready to move on from education, and I don’t really see myself coming back to Sequoyah as an employee.”
Since coming back from Turkey, Wetmore has been the Director of Daycare & After School Activities, and ran Sequoyah Summerhouse this past summer.
Mason Kaye, Wetmore’s replacement, was hired by Wetmore last winter as a Daycare staff member. While Wetmore was not part of the decision to hire Kaye as her replacement, “I was certainly included in the thought process and whether we were just going to hire immediately or hire in the interim, which is what we went with.” Wetmore added that she believed Kaye would be interested in her job, so she mentioned it to him. Kaye “was very interested to move forward on an interim and permanent basis” as Director of Daycare and Enrichment.
Kaye said he “worked closely and easily with Kelsey last year in the daycare program, and again in a leadership capacity during the first Summerhouse,” so he felt it was a “natural step” for him to be promoted to Director of Daycare and Enrichment.
Wetmore worked the first month of the school year because “I wanted to make sure we were really having a wonderful and smooth transition for everybody.” Wetmore made her decision “a little bit on the late side in the normal course of the hiring process as it goes for educational institutions, … [so] I offered to stay for the first month [of the school year] and really train Mason.”
Seventh-grader Oscar Yum, who had Wetmore as a teacher when he was in the Backyard, said: “I feel sad about Kelsey leaving because she was part of the Sequoyah community for such a long time. I will miss her.” Yum is “really happy” that Kaye is taking Wetmore’s role at the school because “he is a great Daycare staff and he is awesome.”
Kaye said he is not looking to change Daycare in any major ways, but to bring some “great elements” from Summerhouse (like cooking, music, and the Crew-in-Training program) to Daycare. “Crew in Training—a leadership development program for 12-15 year-olds [that happened during Summerhouse] this summer—has potential to be an effective element in daycare, and expansion to the high school as well.” Kaye “loves the Sequoyah community” and is “thrilled to continue Kelsey’s amazing work here in daycare, enrichment, and Summerhouse!”
Wetmore added: “It’s been a really awesome ride and a very deep expansive learning period for me, both in terms of developing my skills and beginning to understand myself better as a worker and as a leader. I’m going to miss the kids terribly. If I said everyone who I was grateful for [at Sequoyah], I don’t think I’d leave anyone in the entire school out.”
Renee Brody, who worked with and taught Wetmore, said she has “been learning from Kelsey most of her life.” Brody also said, referring to her time spent working in the Backyard: “Kelsey agreed to share her talents with the school. In those years I marveled at Kelsey’s wide range of abilities from material making to problem solving.” With Daycare, Wetmore “recreated, juggled and managed an amazing program,” Brody said. “It is once again time for Kelsey to seek something new. And, in the words of Dr. Seuss, ‘Oh the places she’ll go.’”