All good educators know that teaching is a constant balancing act. From giving your students room to learn independently to guiding their steps; from focusing on individual students to focusing on the class as a whole; from being composed in front of your students to being real – a lot of time in the classroom is spent trying to achieve the yin and yang.
For Shadybrook Elementary School’s Extraordinary Educator, Kayla Tate, she has worked hard to implement the perfect balance in her fourth-grade class. She draws inspiration from her childhood love of learning and her own former educators.
“I often think back on what made those teachers some of my favorite teachers, and I always circle back to the fact they all maintained a perfect balance of being professional, but also fun and open with their students,” Kayla explains. “Many of them reminded us that they were people too, which is something a lot of students forget.”
She adds that these educators were relatable yet direct, always pushing her to be better.
“They pushed me and several others to always put our best foot forward,” Kayla says. “They reminded me that I have so much greatness within me, and that I should unapologetically let it be seen – which is what I strive to teach my students every chance I get.”
Kayla, pairs those influences to keep moving forward with her favorite quote: “Life begins at the end of our comfort zone.”
Named Shadybrook’s Rookie Teacher of the year in 2019, Kayla was nominated as an Extraordinary Educator by her principal, George Green.
“Ms. Tate is compassionate, caring, and a team player,” says Principal Green. “Her students would consider her a fun and energetic teacher that likes to bring real-world experiences into the classroom.”
Kayla knows that in her classroom, what she says and how she conducts herself has a tremendous impact on how her students will learn to balance and prioritize their own lives.
“Children are paying attention even when we do not think they are,” she says. “I realize this more and more when talking to students, grading assignments, or even overhearing some of their conversations, and it amazes me so much. Children are honestly taking everything in, and it is our job as adults to help them make sense of what they hear and see.”
Most of all, Kayla hopes that her students walk away from her classroom holding the balance of what it means to be a unique individual, as well as a good friend and community member to those around them.
“We are all different, but that is what makes us unique. The fact that no two people are the same is an absolutely wonderful thing, and that we should embrace our differences,” Kayla teaches her students. “As people, we often forget to love on each other despite our differences and flaws. As adults, we often teach children, who are so innocent, this same way of thinking and living.
“In my classroom, we do not laugh at or make fun of each other. Instead, we support one another. I hope to show my students that even I make mistakes, but when we make mistakes or do something wrong, we hold ourselves and each other accountable.”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Maria West Photography