Teacher of the Month: Kelly Knarr


Photo by Melissa Redlich

Mrs. Knarr is shown holding her “Teacher of the Month” certificate. She loves teaching AP Lang and English 10, and has been at WCHS for 21 years.

By Melissa Redlich, Features Editor

Favored by many, beloved by all, Kelly Knarr is one of the many fantastic English teachers at WCHS. When sitting in Mrs. Knarr’s class, parallelism, asyndeton and logos no longer seem mundane.

Knarr graduated from St. Joseph’s University with a double minor in Spanish and secondary education. She then went on to receive a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Maryland, as well as her teaching certificate. 

When she was a child, Mrs. Knarr always enjoyed reading and English classes. After moving as a junior in high school from an all-girls Catholic private school in California to Sherwood High School in Montgomery County, Md., Knarr was able to learn from great teachers in MCPS. She believes her desire to teach public school English stemmed from her experience with her favorite high school teachers. 

“I always liked working with my peers and I loved English. When I was in college and studying English, a neighbor of my parents said, ‘I wish I had gotten my teaching certificate when I was in college, so that I had the ability to be a teacher,’” Mrs. Knarr said. “I thought this was probably a really good idea, so in college, I double minored in Spanish and secondary education, and ended up falling in love with teaching.”

Mrs. Knarr’s love for teaching high schoolers is obvious to her students, which is one of the many reasons students admire her. 

“The way Mrs. Knarr teaches the information, no matter how mundane, it is always interesting for me because she makes everything so easy to understand,” WCHS junior Ava Levin said.

COVID-19 helped Knarr realize what makes teaching so gratifying for her. 

“As a teacher, I never, ever thought that I would be able to work from home. So for a while it was kind of nice to think this must be what it’s like not to have to come to work and be able to work in my home,” Mrs. Knarr said. “However, for me, what makes this job so rewarding is being able to interact with my students, without a screen.” 

The environment of Knarr’s classroom is a great outlet for students where they both get to learn, and also get a break from the anxiety and stress that comes from their many tests and quizzes. 

“I am always comfortable in her classroom and never anxious. Whenever I am there I know that I will be able to get my classwork done, at my own pace,” Levin said.  “Her whole classroom environment is super homey. She also gets to know us – like she actually knows stuff about me and my personality and is interested in what I do outside of school. It is nice to have a teacher you feel knows and understands you as a person.”

Through teaching at WCHS for 21 years, Knarr has seen a lot of the daily struggles students face as teenagers. While being a full-time student and teenager can be extremely difficult, Knarr knows the importance of doing things because you like to do them, rather than doing them ‘because you should’ or to fit in.

“The first half of your life you spend doing what everybody else tells you you’re supposed to do. You’re figuring out your path, and you’re figuring out your identity, and all that needs to happen. But once you can, don’t be afraid to shed the shoulds,” Knarr said. 

As her students grow up, the lesson Knarr wants to teach them the most is that students are more than their GPA, what college they get accepted to or their sports record. Not only is room 225 an English room, but it is a place where students grow and thrive. 

“You get to a point in your life where these ‘shoulds’ become not as important, so you have to be able to have some foundations of value and dignity and worth,” Knarr said. 

This advice definitely reaches Knarr’s students, to the extent where she is a role model and someone they feel comfortable talking to. 

“She is someone I definitely aspire to be when I am older,” Levin said. “I have learned so much from her class, not only about English, but for lessons that I will always remember.”