Kannady chases St. Jude opportunity



Student artwork and writing covers the walls in Rachel Kannady’s former classroom. While many of the names will be erased in the following weeks, the drawings, multiple quotes and poems will remain.

Porter Kelly (12) dresses up as a barbeque dad while Rachel Kannady is pictured as a soccer mom. During the football homecoming week, students and faculty alike showed up and out for each day’s theme. (JACOB WALZ//USED WITH PERMISSION)

After having taught at White Station for 11 years, teacher Rachel Kannady accepted a new job opportunity at St. Jude Research Hospital, leaving White Station behind. 

A familiar face, Kannady held several roles throughout the school, all with equal importance to her.

“I teach Anatomy and Physiology, Dual Enrollment Sociology and Dual Enrollment Globalization,” Kannady said. “[I] coach this swim team. I’m the sponsor for the Jewish Student Union … I am the faculty liaison for the Spartan Scholar Athlete Award … I am the graduation coordinator for the school [and] I oversee Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for school.”

Kannady’s journey at White Station began under former Principal David Mansfield. At the time she interviewed for the open teaching position, Kannady was heavily pregnant; however, she refused to give birth until the contract was official. 

“So, I interviewed with Mr. Mansfield and Pat Sutton, who was an assistant principal at the time, and Mr. Mansfield was our principal,” Kannady said. “[I]t’s 2011 and I interviewed on June 18. I signed my contract [at] 11:45 a.m., and I [birthed] Melissa Jane that night.”

Kannady’s choice to leave the school is not a dislike of her students or her classroom, it’s more about moving forward, in addition to getting a slight pay raise.

“[My] leaving is never a question of not wanting to teach … 98% of what [happens] in my classroom is awesome,” Kannady said. “[When students] have these moments when [they] figure stuff out, and your brain gets all sparkly and your eyes light up like that … It is the crack of teaching … It’s the coolest stuff … Like I can live off of that stuff if it actually paid the bills.”

Many students remark that they will miss Kannady’s company in the school and particularly in the classroom.

“ [I will miss] her presence,” Porter Kelly (12) said.“It’s always fun to be in [her classroom].”

Another student comments on a specific everyday habit of Kannadys’.

“I will miss the way she does attendance by asking random questions every day.” Jake Baxter (12) said.

Kannady’s new job is to be the program manager of the Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her new job will also involve helping students, similar to Kelly and Baxter.

“I’m gonna be kind of like [the students’] guidance counselors,” Kannady said. “I’ll be making sure all [my new students’] stuff is ready, and they’ve done everything and checked all the boxes. And then … giving them a place to come and sit and reset, like in the living room. [I’ll also be an] instructional coach, because I have to work with the faculty, which is 200 plus doctors, in helping to improve their instructional practices.”

Through Kannady’s friendship with mentor, Dr. Pamela Angelle, Kannady was inspired to constantly improve herself while pursuing her Doctorate of Education degree. Dr. Angelle was Kannady’s former high school biology teacher and the question they asked of each other would push her into applying for her job at St. Jude.

“[What’s next] is the most important question,” Kannady said. “If you are trying to build a friendship where you are growing each other and you’re really encouraging each other, that question is the most important question to ask: ‘What’s next?’ … So, [Dr. Angelle] and I have always asked that question of each other, but Dr. Angelle asked [our] cohort she said, ‘What’s next?’”

Going on to bigger and better things has always been her goal, Kannady just needed a push. Having accomplished everything on her list already, she wanted something new and there was one last job on the list.

“I’ve done everything else on the list,” Kannady said. “I had served on the ILT, which is the Instructional Leadership Team. I had served as a science representative at the district. I’ve done everything I can do with summer school other than run a summer school … I had gotten into the EdD [Doctorate of Education] program. I was already working on my doctorate … The last step was to start applying for jobs. So, I had to apply.”

Porter Kelly (12) has known Kannady since he was in the third grade both in and out of school. They met when Porter and Kannady’s son Jonas Kannady played football.

“She’s had a big impact on the school and how a lot of students really do,” Kelly said. “I really did enjoy having her as a teacher. [I want her to] know that White Station loves her.”

Similar to Kelly, Jake Baxter (12) has also known Kannady for a large portion of his life due to them both being Jewish and going to the same synagogue. Baxter feels he’s learned a lot through taking both of her classes Anatomy and Physiology, and Sociology.

“I want her to know that every student she’s ever had probably really appreciates her and what she’s done,” Baxter said. “And she improves everyone’s day throughout [all the] years she’s been teaching, and that she’s done a very good job.”