• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 17s

Teacher of the Week: Dee McKee

By James Gaddis Photojournalist: Rick Rysso - 12:54 PM January 16, 2017
PALMER –

The day after Dee McKee learned her big brother Mike Kelly died in a plane crash, she went to school as usual.

“I just felt that this was a place that I would be buoyed up, and that’s exactly what happened,” said McKee.

KTVA 11’s Teacher of the Week was flooded with cards and condolences from students and staff at Palmer Jr. Middle School. She used the opportunity to teach her students a valuable life lesson.

“I told these kids, ‘You are going to watch me go through a process here and I will be deeply sad,'” explained McKee. “‘At the other end of it, I’m going to come out of it and you’re going to see Mrs. McKee as I normally am and I want you to notice that because you’re going to run into a tough spot in your life.'”

Although careful not to scare them, McKee didn’t hold back from telling them the honest truth about her brother’s passing. That straight-shooting style is how she’s known to operate — her students are held accountable and always know where they stand.

“They trust teachers,” said McKee. “They have to be able to look at what you’re saying and doing is the real deal. That’s essential.”

McKee balances her toughness with tenderness. Visiting her classroom, you get a sense she genuinely loves her students as she works to capture their hearts.

“If you’ve got their heart, they will work harder. They get self esteem from that,” said McKee.

She called it an “absolute honor” to be part of a student’s life and hopes to make a difference with the time they’re afforded. She said that outlook has been the key to her success.

“I think teachers take very seriously our, what’s called in loco parentis, which means in place of the parent,” said McKee. “I want to do for these kids what their parents want me to do and what the parent would do in my place, because they’re trusting me with their treasure.”

In a classroom filled with middle-schoolers, she also has to capture their attention, for which she relies on spontaneity.

“They’re never quite sure what’s going to happen,” explained McKee. “I could just burst into song to illustrate a point, or speak in an accent, or just do something off the wall to keep them interested because when you do that, they are there.”

McKee has taught at Palmer Jr. Middle School for 20 of the 21 years she’s been teaching. Her husband, George, is a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly member.

Know a teacher making a difference in students’ lives? Nominate them for Teacher of the Week.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Hiland Mountain plant sale starts Tuesday

    by Lauren Maxwell on May 22, 20:21

    The plant sale at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center is an event that some people wait all year for. Not just the people who come to buy beautiful hanging baskets but the inmates who grow them, as well. The sale has been going on for at least 20 years, according to Superintendent Gloria Johnson. Most of […]

  • Politics

    Alaska House approves measure limiting opioid prescriptions

    by Liz Raines on May 22, 20:14

    On Monday, the Alaska House passed a bill to limit initial opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply. House Bill 159 is part of a push from Governor Bill Walker’s administration to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic, which Walker declared a disaster in February. While members of the House spent nearly four hours debating the […]

  • Politics

    Sullivan’s town hall highlights senators’ difference on Planned Parenthood funding

    by Heather Hintze on May 22, 20:07

    Senator Dan Sullivan’s (R-Alaska) town hall in Anchorage over the weekend highlighted how he and fellow republican Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) differ on funding for Planned Parenthood. He discussed a variety of topics from fighting opioid abuse to diversifying our economy, but it was the topic of healthcare that really got the crowd engaged. “My […]

  • Weather

    Record rainfall recorded across SE Alaska

    by Melissa Frey on May 22, 17:18

    Significant rain fell across most of Southcentral and Southeast Alaska this weekend as a storm system moved in from the Gulf of Alaska. For Southcentral, this was the wettest day seen in months. Anchorage picked up 0.25 inches of rain on Sunday alone. This was the most rain recorded in Anchorage since late-September of 2016. […]

  • News

    Search underway for 2 overdue boaters

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 22, 17:13

    Late Monday morning, a search began for two overdue boaters in Togiak. The Togiak Village Public Safety Officer contacted Alaska State Police around 11:15 Monday morning to report two overdue boaters. Troopers say Simeon Wassillie and Stephanie Poulsen, both 25, left the village on Saturday in an 18-foot, blue, open hull, 35hp boat and were […]

  • News

    APD seeks runaway teen, 15

    by KTVA Web Staff on May 22, 16:58

    Police are asking for your help in locating a missing teen they say ran away from home. Celonia Rainey, 15, was last seen in the 5200 block of Chena Avenue in east Anchorage Sunday afternoon around 1. Celoina is described as a light-skinned black female, standing 5-foot-7 and weighing about 165 pounds. She has short […]

  • News

    ASD to hand out 220 pink slips on Wednesday

    by Shannon Ballard on May 22, 16:35

    It’s the final countdown for Anchorage students, as there are just two days left until summer break. But, this year, it’s not just graduates who won’t be returning to their old classrooms this fall. More than 200 pink slips are all set to go out on Wednesday. This comes after five were already given to five […]

  • News

    North Korea fires medium-range missile in latest test

    by CBS News on May 22, 15:57

    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Sunday fired a medium-range missile, U.S. and South Korean officials said, in the latest ballistics test for a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles. One U.S. official said it appeared to be a successful test of the land-based version of North Korea’s sub-launched missile, […]