The Late Bloomer

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Kathleen Kellett-Gosselink is a Middle School psychologist in Northern New Jersey. She is a wife, mother, and most proudly a grandmother of Owen, Katie, Charlotte, and Finn, and Baby Jack who watches over her from above.

The Late Bloomer

A late bloomer – that’s what they called me.

“It’s a family trait,” my stepmother said…but I was more than “behind schedule.” I was at the eleventh hour to get my life on track.

At age forty-seven I graduated summa cum laude from college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. By my fiftieth birthday I had two master’s degrees and a professional certification in School Psychology plus an Educational Supervisors Certificate.

This was the girl who was unable to graduate with her class from high school and flunked out of college with five F’s in the 1960s. In today’s educational setting, I would be classified as disaffected and put into a program for low achievers. But you remember the 1960’s:  if you failed – you failed – and it was all your responsibility.

The path to the year 2000 was an arduous one. Adolescence was a tumultuous time in my life and college wasn’t on my agenda. Motherhood came early and the ensuing years passed by quickly, raising three children and working in a variety of professions: realtor, physician’s office receptionist, teacher’s aide, and nanny-finder. In 1992 when I first considered college I received tremendous family support…and when the letters of acceptance came I was truly astounded.

In August of 1992, prior to my first day of school, I had my husband drive me to campus and walk the route to my classes because I was so nervous that I would be lost. I finished in two years, going summers, during intercessions and taking courses at neighboring universities. My sons carried me through in math, tutoring their Mom in algebra and statistics. The woman who walked to the podium to receive her diploma in June 1994 was far different from the terrified woman who could barely find her way on campus in 1992.

After receiving my BA, I initially rebuked the idea of pursuing a graduate degree, telling myself “I’m too old”. My inner voice said “You’ll be 50 years old before you finish!” A wise woman said to me “You’ll be 50 years old regardless and wouldn’t it be better to be 50 years old and have a doctorate?”

Life had other plans for me, though. My husband lost his job and I needed to find one – fast. Within eighteen months, I had not only a teacher certification in special education but also a Masters degree in Education … and most importantly, I had a job teaching high school Special Education.

It was the experience of a lifetime. I loved every minute of it; well, almost. My classes were composed of “behaviorally disabled” high school boys, aka: emotionally disturbed, conduct disordered or socially maladjusted. Despite their labels, I loved them and it further reinforced my desire to be a school psychologist. I spent five years teaching high school while going to graduate school at night to earn a Master’s degree in Psychology and a School Psychologist Professional certification.

When the new century arrived I had a full-time position as a school psychologist. It is a career I love so much that I still jump out of bed every morning when the alarm goes off -simply because I can’t wait to go to school.

This journey has provided me with an education far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. My life is enriched daily by colleagues, parents, and most importantly by the children I counsel.

Intelligence is said to be skill in extracting meaning from everyday experiences and at our age we are blessed with so many experiences.

 

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