As a new year begins, we’re thinking of the Extraordinary Educators returning to their virtual and in-person classrooms. While no one could have anticipated just how much time the pandemic would take from our normal school schedule, our High Point teachers continue to adapt and find ways to support our outstanding students.
Today we are highlighting our Extraordinary Educator, Kayla Ranew, social studies teacher at High Point Central High School. For Kayla, the day Governor Cooper announced classrooms going virtual back in March was a milestone moment in her teaching career.
“I remember what I did that day, where I was, what I taught the day before,” Kayla says. She remembers the range of emotions she felt over the order: surprise, anxiety, uncertainty, and sadness.
“I was sad that I would not see ‘my kids’ for at least a few weeks but still optimistic for the future. In the next few weeks, I was sadder, more anxious, frustrated, and overwhelmed by what was taking place in the education world because of COVID-19,” Kayla says. “I wanted, and still want, to be in the classroom teaching kids face-to-face like ‘normal.’”
In the meantime, Kayla continues to strive for the above and beyond mindset she sees on display at HPC.
“I am starting my ninth year at HPC, and I love where I work,” Kayla says. “HPC is always adapting and achieving. Everywhere you look there are students, teachers, counselors, and everyone in between excelling, winning awards, getting grants, starting clubs, doing community outreach, and more. Our people are doing great things, and I am proud to support those achievements any way that I can.”
Kayla was nominated by her principal, Dr. Shelley Nixon-Green, who said, “Staff, students, parents, and colleagues all share how Mrs. Ranew supports new teachers, is always willing to help a colleague, goes the extra mile to support her students and makes students excited about learning. She is dedicated, student-centered, and hard-working.”
And what gives this Extraordinary Educator the drive to keep being present, even when the classroom is anything but normal? Her students.
“When people ask me what grade I teach, and I say high school, 90% of the time I get a look and something along the lines of ‘bless your heart,’” Kayla jokes. “Teaching is a stressful job and sometimes it can weigh heavy on one’s mind, but as soon as those kids are walking towards you in the hallway or walk into your classroom at lunch to help you with the crossword puzzle, everything is okay. I am excited every day to see how they are, what’s going on with them, what questions they are going ask, and where the day will take me. The bell will ring at the end of the day, but the road to get there is never the same!”
And while the educator who stands before her students today is confident about what lessons she brings to the classroom, Kayla wasn’t always certain about the kind of teacher she wanted to be. Crafting her teaching style came from first understanding exactly who she is as an individual.
“When I was in high school, I had this belief that I would be this strict, no–nonsense teacher that wouldn’t let anything by her,” Kayla explains. “I’m not sure why I thought that because it’s the exact opposite of my personality.”
When Kayla began student teaching, she recalls trying to be that kind of teacher and often felt like she was playing the part of another person. She even tried to emulate everything her on-site teacher educator, Mrs. Jennifer Rash, did in her classroom. Kayla would end each day drained, exhausted, and disappointed.
“Mrs. Rash very bluntly sat me down and told me that I was not her, and I wasn’t doing a great job trying to be,” Kayla recounts. After discussing a strategy for her own style of teaching, Kayla began to put the plan into place come Monday morning.
“Mrs. Rash left me alone the whole day and a lot of days after that,” Kayla says. “I think knowing that she had confidence in me and that she was okay with me being me really helped me figure out who I was as a teacher. She let me make mistakes, ask for advice, cry, observe other people; she let me find myself as a teacher with no other expectation other than ‘be you.’”
For this alumna of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Kayla was forever changed by the professors and experiences she had in the UNCG teacher education program. As part of the NC Teaching Fellows Program, Kayla credits professor Dr. Wayne Journell and others with shaping her pedagogy and teaching style today. She also mentions the friends and mentors she has found in her fellow educators at HPC in her last nine years of teaching.
Today, she pours back what she learned into her own students, always encouraging them to ask questions.
“It’s always been important to me that students know that everything is written with intent,” Kayla says. “I want students to know that they should ask questions, they should always dig beneath the surface of an issue (whether you’re for or against it). It is so important to be able to reflect on what you know, why you know it, why you don’t, and to be aware of how information is delivered and processed.”
Discover our High Points,
The HPD Team
Kayla’s Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/30RGE8FT6M9Q9?ref_=wl_share
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