Welcome, Kelly Koomler

Ms. Koomler teaches in the PIP program. Photo: Kaylin Rivera

“Experience as much of the world as you can with an open mind and learn as much as you can,” advises Kelly Koomler, who is new to the Pathways to Independence Program at ARHS. “[We need to] support everyone and lift each other up.”

Her goal in her job is to help her students with developmental disabilities to “become happy, healthy, and knowledgeable adults with the skills that they need to live the lives that they want to.”

Ms. Koomler teaches health, determination, social skills, independent living, and vocational skills. She bases every lesson off of student interest and needs, and her largest class has five students.

Ms. Koomler was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and earned her undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University and her graduate degree at the University of Illinois.

Ms. Koomler described her childhood as really fun, noting that she grew up in the country and “spent a lot of time in the woods” with animals such as chickens, goats, cats, and dogs. Ms. Koomler said the goats were her favorite animals because they were really fun and they had big personalities. “They were a bit mischievous,” said Ms. Koomler.

She also feels lucky that her family was “really close and supportive of each other and a lot of fun.”

Ms. Koomler has a one and a half year old daughter named Violet. She said having her child was “a life-changing experience.”

“I didn’t know I could love so deeply or even know that such a love even existed,” she said. Ms. Koomler also admires her mom, who was a single mom, for “working as hard as she did to give us the best opportunities and experiences in life.”

When not working or parenting, Ms. Koomler is very adventurous and loves trying new things. She loves “living in the moment” and wants to experience as much of the world as she can.

Ms. Koomler has already lived in big cities like Boston, New York, and London and has explored the landscapes of New Mexico, Texas, and Germany. She would love to go to Africa and Japan with her daughter Violet once she is a little bit older.

One thing Ms. Koomler is not afraid of is trying new food, especially spicy food. “There’s very little food I could say I hate,” she said.

Ms. Koomler would love to learn how to play the ukulele but first wants “to learn how to spell it before I can play it.”