Joy Kelly’s 18 years leaves a lasting impact

Kelly served as principal at Bettendorf High for 18 years

By Sam Barnes

When asked to sum up her time at BHS in one word, Joy Kelly said, “Blessed.”

Kelly first came to BHS 18 years ago, and when first approached for the job of administrator she was apprehensive. She stated she thought it wasn’t the right time. But that all changed when she was asked to interview.

“I thought it would be a great place to be bigger than one person from an administrative role,” Kelly said. “I was very excited as a parent for the quality of education my kids were getting here.”

From that point forward Kelly paved the way as the high school’s first female administrator, going on to earn accolades including being named the 2014-2015 Assistant Principal of the Year by the School Administrators of Iowa. And when former principal Jimmy Casas vacated his position during the 2016-2017 school year, Kelly was named interim principal.

That position turned out to not be so temporary, for Kelly was confirmed as principal for the following school year, making her the first female head principal in the school’s history. Kelly said that the best part of her job is being a part of student success.

“The relationships and opportunities, the faith that people have put in me to lead. It’s just always been an honor,”said Kelly.

When it was announced earlier this year that Kelly would be leaving her position as principal here at Bettendorf, many students were left wondering why.

“Professionally, this has been the hardest decision of my entire life,” Kelly said. She will be taking a position as head of school at Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City, the school where she first began her administrative career in 1995. She is doing so to be closer with her family, but will miss all the relationships she’s made here at Bettendorf.

“I have a great team. The admin team is second to none. We’re very close, we’re a family within our families. You’re never in it alone.”

Looking to the remainder of her final year at Bettendorf, Kelly has made it evident that the health of staff and students is at the forefront of her mind

“Even apart from coronavirus I always worry about the health and safety of students and staff,” Kelly said. “Educators across the country have been put in a very difficult position. As important as this job is, they're really important somewhere else, at home. Everything I can do to make sure they're safe and healthy is of the utmost importance.”

Sam Barnes is a sophomore.

This is his first year as a staff writer for "The Growl."


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