“Rusty and I both started in Lincoln County Schools at the same time and did our student teaching together,” she said. “He was a teacher at West Middle, principal at S. Ray Lowder, East Middle, North Brook and is now the accountability director.”
The Saine’s oldest daughter, Sadie, is a health and PE teacher, softball coach and athletic director at Bunker Hill High School in Catawba County. The middle daughter, Chloe was award both the Park Scholarship and the Morehead-Cain Scholarship during her senior year at West. She’s currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“In high school, I thought I wanted to go into the health field,” Kelly Saine said. “In my senior year I was in an advanced calculus class. After about a week, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to take this class.’ It was a little bit of ‘senioritis.’”
Saine went to the guidance counselor with her concerns and she told her that Union Elementary was looking for an assistant for their after-school care program. Saine was offered the ability to do the job at Union for credit.
“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It wasn’t work; it was fun. My mother had been a teacher’s assistant forever and of course she loved it, but there was a lot of work she didn’t get paid for. She didn’t make a lot of money which steered me in the opposite direction. When I worked with the kids at Union though, I got it. I realized how it was all worth it in the end.”
An elementary school teacher for most of her career, Saine went back to school to get a master’s degree in reading and English language arts. She followed the former principal at Love Memorial to West Lincoln Middle to take a Title 1 reading position. Saine then transferred to North Brook to do Title 1 reading, but when administration moved her husband to that school, Saine moved to the newly opened Norris Childers.
“I enjoyed Title 1 reading but I only did that for a few years because it can get monotonous teaching the same thing every day,” she said. “I eventually went back to the classroom at Childers. I have a tendency about every four or five years to want to do something a little different. I don’t want to get in a rut.”
Saine has been at West Middle for three years, starting out as an instructional facilitator until the AP job opened up.
“Being in administration was not an option for me when the kids were still in the house because Rusty was in administration and the hours are long,” she said. “The kids were all involved in after school activities. After Chloe left it was just Andy, so I started thinking about it. I thought the instructional facilitator job would let me know if I would enjoy not being with kids all day.”
Once she decided that she liked working in administration, she took the classes necessary to be licensed for school administration. The AP position opened up at the last minute when the then AP decided to retire over the summer. Of course, there are days that Saine wishes she was still in the classroom.
“I think in the classroom there’s a lot more immediate gratification and you can see the rewards of your work a lot more quickly,” she said. “You don’t always see it on a day to day basis in administration. I do think that I still have really good relations with kids and can make a difference. It’s not as isolated as what I thought it would be. I’m still in as much contact with kids as I ever was. We spend most of our day with kids.”
Saine is worried about the current decline in support for public education which she believes is incredibly important, maybe more so now than when she started out in education.
“A quality public education is the only way to level the playing field for a lot of our kids,” she said. “There’s obviously inequities between counties, within the county, definitely between pubic and private education. I think my eyes were closed to that until my kids started going to college and seeing the differences in their experiences versus others. I think we really need to be promoting the good things that we do. Not that Lincoln County doesn’t do that, but we need to make it a priority to secure funding. I worry about being able to replace teachers. We have little turnover here in West Lincoln, but as they retire, I worry about replacing them. There aren’t nearly as many candidates out there. They know that the money’s not there and that it’s tough.”