Knowing that she wanted to be a teacher from a young age, Sandra J. Kannan was inspired to a career in education due to her love of reading and history, as well as the encouragement of her parents. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Suffolk University in Boston in 1967 and embarked on her career as a teacher in the Derry Cooperative School District in New Hampshire that same year. In 1970, she became a teaching assistant principal in the Lawrence Public Schools in Massachusetts. Continually motivated throughout the years by her great love of learning, she continued her own studies alongside her career, which culminated with a Master of Education from Massachusetts University in 1996. She retired from the Lawrence Public Schools in 2002.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Kannan taught grades K-5, with an average class size of 27-30 students, and, in her role as a teaching assistant principal, filled in for the principal when they were absent. She considers her greatest achievement to be inspiring and supporting her students, who often came from difficult backgrounds, and helped them to cultivate attitudes of kindness and respect. Developing a fine arts curriculum for grades 3-5, she recalls a time when she took her third and fourth grade classes to the Museum of Fine Arts, where her students were not only well-behaved, but actively engaged and well-prepared to learn about the exhibits, as a particular point of pride.
Alongside her primary responsibilities, Ms. Kannan spent a decade serving on the elementary education curriculum committee for the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, one of the most important collections of American art in the country, from 1992 to 2002. She has also been inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, something she cites among her career highlights. Deeply grateful to her mentor, Katherine Rivet, a tough, old-school principal whose quiet kindness and conscientiousness left a large impact, Ms. Kannan hopes to leave her own legacy as an honest and caring teacher who was well loved by her students.