The 2019 Georgia Teacher of the Year Winner will be announced on Saturday, May 19, 2018. Stay tuned!
GaDOE: When did you first realize you wanted to be a teacher?
Kayla Yeargin: As a child I would play teacher with my stuffed animals, but I did not realize that I truly wanted to teach until I had graduated from college. I earned a BS in Mathematics and was planning on applying my degree in any way other than teaching. An opportunity arose for me to apply to teach at Troup High School during my master’s program. I interviewed for the job and accepted the position within three days. I cannot see my life moving in any other direction than teaching. It was meant to be.
GaDOE: What keeps you in the classroom?
Kayla: The students that I encounter each day keeps me in the classroom. I have an opportunity to impact their lives daily and to teach them about life, not just math. They also teach me new things. I love to see my students mature and be proud of their successes, no matter how big or small.
GaDOE: What character qualities make great teachers?
Kayla: Patience, attentiveness, and the ability to adjust are a few qualities that make great teachers. Students may take a little longer than you expect to come to a conclusion. Educators must be patient to allow students to show what they know. Lessons will not always go as you have planned in your head. The ability to adapt on the fly to best benefit students is what makes a great teacher.
GaDOE: What is your favorite part of the school year? Why?
Kayla: My favorite part of the school year is November. It is a time that I feel like I know my students and that they know me. They are more open and willing to do anything that I ask of them because we have built a level of trust. They know that I want what is best for them and will do anything in my power that I can for them.
GaDOE: What is the funniest thing a child has ever said to you?
Kayla: “Coach Yeargin, I think my water just broke.”
GaDOE: What is your favorite technology to use for engaging students in learning?
Kayla: There isn’t one piece of technology that is my favorite, I like to use a wide variety!! Google expedition goggles can take students to places like Mt. Rushmore to help them understand scaled formations. Touchscreen laptops allow students to manipulate functions on sites like GeoGebra so that transformations are shown in a matter of seconds. Students tweet in class to show their knowledge and take polls to analyze real life data. The variety of technology keeps my students engaged and wanting more.
GaDOE: Everyone likes to know the morning routine of successful people. What is yours?
Kayla: My morning routine starts with a 10-minute snooze. I shower and get ready for work. When I arrive at work, I start a pot of coffee, greet my colleagues, and get ready for my students.
GaDOE: What do you tell students when they need encouragement?
Kayla: Don’t stress yourself out about the little things. Be confident in what you know. Give yourself credit! You are awesome and need to show it off.
GaDOE: What do you tell other teachers when they need encouragement?
Kayla: You are not alone. You have a team behind you that supports you. Although all of our experiences are not exactly alike, we can learn from one another. I like to give small prizes or tokens of appreciation when other teachers need encouragement. Seeing something that reminds you why you are in the schools helps get over any hump.
GaDOE: What is the best teaching advice you’ve received?
Kayla: Build up your students. Let your students know you are a human too. You have the same emotions they do, and they need to see that. Laugh with them, own your mistakes, and let them know you care about them.