Alumna Kelli Jo Sheahon never thought her first pregnancy would land her a seat at the live taping of the Ellen DeGeneres show.
When a photo of seven Goddard Oak Street Elementary teachers, including Sheahon, who were pregnant at the same time went viral, DeGeneres caught wind and sent one of her producers Jeannie Klisiewicz to the school to surprise them. (Click here to view the YouTube video of this surprise.)
Sheahon said she was “completely and utterly shocked” when DeGeneres’ face popped up on the computer screen that she and her co-workers were asked to gather around the day of the surprise announcement.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Ellen,” she said. “I love her positivity and the fact that she supports spreading kindness and accepting people for who they are. I think these are great qualities to teach children in our classrooms and schools. Getting to talk to Ellen and now being invited to her show is truly an amazing opportunity.”
DeGeneres is known for her show content as a television host and comedian, her celebrity interviews, games, giveaways and more. Each year, she hosts a special Mother’s Day show where she fills her audience with soon-to-be moms and then surprises them with generous baby essentials.
Sheahon is expecting her first children — twins — and she and her co-workers plan to attend the Mother’s Day show taping in California on May 9.
“My co-workers and I have definitely bonded through this experience,” Sheahon said. “We have always said that Oak Street feels like one big family. We support and love one another and strive to provide a true family environment for our students. Now, we just feel like we are making our family bigger.”
Sheahon said the other moms are very supportive of one another and regularly ask each other “How are you feeling?”
When their story first started picking up, they even joked that “Maybe we can get on ‘Ellen,’” but never thought it would actually happen.
“It is certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and something I will get to share with my children once they are born by telling them they went to the ‘Ellen’ show with me,” Sheahon said. “I feel very lucky to be a part of something like this. I know not many people get this opportunity and I am very thankful to Ellen and everyone who is making this a reality.”
Since her mom, dad, and older sister were all teachers, Sheahon said she tried really hard not to become a teacher herself.
“I was bound and determined that I was going to do something else. I went to school for three years in a completely different field. As they say, however, teaching was in my blood, and when I got a job as a para in a school after taking a break from college classes, I knew I’d found where I belonged.”
Sheahon now teaches fourth graders and thanks her professors at Newman for “truly understanding education” in a way that allowed her to enjoy her college experience even more.
“There were many professors at Newman who truly exemplified what teaching was all about,” she said. “Some that come to mind are Karen Rogers (previous associative professor of education) and Gary Wilkerson (instructor of education) — they were fantastic. For me, Newman was flexible but rigorous, and encouraged all prospective teachers to be reflective, compassionate educators.”
Sheahon loves working with children, and being a first-time mother, she is excited and nervous to experience motherhood.
“Children are unique, creative and downright funny,” she said. “I absolutely love when kids get really involved and passionate about what they are learning. Being a part of that is absolutely priceless.”