To all of our High Point seniors, Class of 2020, we want to wish a huge congratulations! Although the conclusion of your senior year might not have gone the way you hoped or planned, we are incredibly proud of all the hard work you’ve accomplished – and we hope you are too!
We also don’t want to let the end of another school year pass without acknowledging the incredible work of the men and women who teach our High Point students year after year, giving them the tools they need to go into the world and make a difference. That’s why we’re celebrating another set of very Extraordinary Educators this month, three teachers who give to their students every day to ensure that they are equipped with everything they need to succeed in their education and their lives after the classroom.
“Never stop learning, after their done being a student in class, become a student of the world.”
Lakayla, a first-grade teacher at Parkview Village Elementary School, was nominated by her principal, Crystal Gregory. Gregory describes Lakayla as “a respected leader who thinks beyond ordinary limits.”
As a first-grade teacher, Lakayla is especially inspired by the power of reading, both in her life and in the lives of her students. In her first class of first graders, she was touched after a read aloud session when her students told her she was the first person to read aloud to them.
“Now anytime I really want to teach my kids something, I know that reading aloud to them and having discussions is a way that they’ll appreciate learning,” she says.
Lakayla remembers the first time a teacher read aloud to her. The book was Stone Soup, and Lakayla still recalls morals the story taught her: to be kind and do good to those around you.
“My wish isn’t for my students to read one particular book,” she says. “My wish is for them to have the experience of reading many books that helps them to connect to and understand their world.”
Along with reading, Lakayla has always been inspired by the teachers around her – from the professors she learned from at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, to her fellow colleagues at Parkview.
“The teachers that I get to talk to and observe every day solidify and enforce the knowledge I get from books,” Lakayla says. “I get to see them put these education theories into practice and after having conversations and debates, I can figure out how to make it work for me. From the time I started teaching, every door at Parkview has been open to me. And this access to great teachers has made me a better teacher.”
Check out Lakayla’s Amazon Wishlist!
“Keep pushing and striving to prove people that doubt you wrong. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do or be something. Take those negative words that people wish upon you and use it as fuel to your fire.”
Donelle Lyon, who teaches 6th through 12th grade physical education and health at High Point Pruette SCALE (School Community Alternative Learning Environment), was nominated by his principal, Tanecka Robeson. “Donelle inspires students to make healthy decisions at critical moments in their lives,” Robinson says.
As a physical education and health teacher, Donelle wants to inspire his students to face challenges with bravery and to be honest about the challenges they are facing. He notes the misperceptions around High Point Pruette SCALE – that it’s a place for students who have faced problems in their adolescence and don’t have a future to look forward to. But he says nothing could be further from the truth.
“People in the community don’t always know what’s going on inside with the students,” he explains. “But give the young men and women at High Point Pruette SCALE a chance to grow from the small mistakes that they’ve made… Students act out for a reason but nobody has the courage to see what’s truly going on with them at home.”
Donelle’s passion for his students at High Point Pruette SCALE come from his own story and experience with education.
“Troubled youth are my biggest influence,” Donelle explains. “I had a disciplinary problem in school. Even though I came from a rare household – having both my parents in the house – I was always being disruptive and being the class clown. It led to me being in situations inside and outside of school that could have easily been avoided. With that being said I can relate and understand what students go through.”
Donelle says throughout his time in education, he most remembers a time when a student shared how much of a positive male role model he was in their life. It’s this kind of relationship building that continues to fuel him to advocate on his students’ behalfs and find ways to help them solve problems.
Check out Donelle’s Amazon Wishlist!
“I want students to learn to be kind to themselves and others. My desire is to have students treat others well and to also be kind to others. When kindness is present, it helps make connections with others that help students flourish. I think students would have a positive outlook for their futures and want to continue to learn.”
As a third-grade teacher at Florence Elementary, Kara was nominated by her principal, Chiyanna Young. Young says of Kara is a relationship builder who has enhanced her students’ learner through earning specific educational grants.
As a longtime employee in the Guilford County School System, Kara has worked in almost every area of the school system. Since 2003, she’s been everything from an ACES leader, to a substitute, to an assistant teacher, to a full time elementary teacher.
“Throughout the years, I valued having a connection with the communities I worked in because I cared about the impact that I made not only with students but also parents’ lives,” Kara says. “I ensured parents saw that I took interest in students’ lives by attending outside activities that my students participated in… Even though my life has changed a lot in 16 years, I continue to try to invest time in my students outside of school.”
In her years as a teacher, Kara has used her classroom as everything from a place to host a parent/student cookout to a makeshift football stadium – complete with football field, field posts, and football-themed lessons to engage her students in a new way. Kara attributes her creativity in the classroom to the high caliber of teachers she’s worked with over the years.
“The world around me influences my teaching style,” she explains. “I am lucky to have started my teaching career at an excellent school that had hard working passionate teachers where I had the ability to collaborate some of the best lessons.” From summer book clubs to workshops, Kara is always calling for herself and her fellow educators to better themselves to provide stronger educational support to their students.
Check out Kara’s Amazon Wishlist!
And the wise words offered up by these educators are good for more than just the students they teach; they’re good for all of us.
To our readers, to the Class of 2020, to High Point citizens: Keep pushing and striving to prove people that doubt you wrong. Be kind to yourself and to others. Become a student of the world.
Keep discovering our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Maria West Photography