According to Mesquite ISD, nearly 70 of its over 400 new teachers this 2019-20 school year are MISD graduates, but just one was announced as the recipient of the Texas Clinical Teacher Award presented by Texas Directors of Field Experience. Kaylea Long is a first-year teacher who teaches first grade at Rutherford Elementary. She is a graduate of Mesquite High School and interned as a college student at Motley Elementary.
“I nominated Kaylea because I feel that she has the ‘it’ factor that teachers need to have to become successful,” said Susan Williams, director of the MISD/Texas A&M Partnership. “I watched her during the past year grow from college student to a professional. Kaylea has what it takes to be a very confident first-year teacher.”
How did it feel to be the recipient of the Texas Clinical Teacher award?
It felt very good to have my work over student teaching be recognized.
How does it feel to grow up in MISD and come back as a teacher?
It's different because you get to see the different views of it, and I kind of get a view of what it was like for my teachers and how it was when I was growing up.
What drew you to education?
It was the positive experience that I had growing up. Whenever I look back at my own educational experience it was mostly positive and there wasn't a single teacher who made me want to be like them, it was really all of my teachers. And I wanted to be able to give that back to others and create a positive experience for other children as well.
What have you enjoyed most about working with kids?
What I enjoy the most is being able to see each of them grow individually at their own rate because each child is so different and they're all at different starting points. I love watching them go from one point to the next and watch them improve over time.
Why did you choose to work with elementary kids?
I like the style of elementary teaching, the age group and being able to help them start with the basics of reading and math, and being able to form those connections with them with learning at this age. They're also still excited about learning at this age.
What's been the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part is what I think new teachers in general probably deal with, and that's taking on the workload and adjusting to the lifestyle of a teacher like getting stuff done during the day and what you need to get done after school.
Growing up did you have a specific teacher who really made an impact on you?
The teacher that had the most impact on me was my high school dance teacher (Brie Tyler). You could always tell that she genuinely cared not just about what we were doing in the classrooms, she cared about us as individuals and she was just amazing.
Even though she was my high school teacher I'm still able to bring that into my own classroom and show my students that I genuinely care about them.
What do you hope your kids get from your classroom?
I hope that when my students leave my classroom that they value themselves and their education, and that they know that they are important.
What do you enjoy doing for fun?
I love dancing; any time I get a chance to dance I will dance.
Did you ever consider becoming a dance teacher?
I did at one point, but after thinking about it as a senior in high school I just thought this would probably be a better route, and if I wanted to pursue dancing it was something I could do on my own and not as a career choice.
It's almost the holidays. What are you looking forward to?
I'm just looking forward to being able to spend time with my family. With this being my first career I don't get to see my family as often as I would like to.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
In five years I hope to see myself as a more developed teacher and still trying to be the best teacher I can be.