The story of a hometown teacher

Kelley Hedstrom’s teachers sparked her interest in the profession

by TOM BERG

Kelley Hedstrom grew up in the kind of town where childhood friends stay friends for life.

“There were five boys and five girls in my kindergarten class,” she says. “Of those five girls, I’m still in touch with four.”

Where was that?

Irvine.

Hedstrom remains friends with many of her former Irvine classmates – and teachers. In fact, it was those Irvine teachers who inspired her to become a teacher – now at Stonecreek Elementary and soon at Loma Ridge Elementary, which opens in August in Portola Springs.

“Irvine teachers are so dedicated,” she says. “They give extra time to build relationships and bonds with the kids. That’s what makes Irvine stand out.”

That’s also what turned around her childhood struggles with math and science.

“My high school math teacher, Mrs. Willingham, actually would come back to school with her dog after dinner to give us little study sessions, to make sure we were ready for the test,” Hedstrom recalls.

And Hedstrom’s eighth-grade science teacher, Mrs. Sodorff, helped Hedstrom study science beyond eighth grade … and all throughout high school.

“She made it a priority to build a relationship with me,” Hedstrom says. “Through that, I kept interested in science, and I decided it was my favorite subject. She inspired me to become a teacher.”

The two still are friends.

“My goal is to build a bond with students, to build lifelong relationships with them just like my teachers did,” Hedstrom says.

When Irvine opens its 24th elementary school – in Portola Springs this August – it will feature high-tech science labs, innovation labs, dedicated music rooms … and Mrs. Hedstrom, who learned what it takes to be a great teacher from those who taught her – right here in Irvine.