Liv­ing their dreams

New and re­turn­ing teach­ers at Live Oak Ele­men­tary pre­pare for the first day of school

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - KAYLA ROBINS krobins@cov­

When kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up, how many ac­tu­ally be­come the fire­fighter or as­tro­naut or pro­fes­sional foot­ball player they claim des­tined to be­come? As one lo­cal teacher sticks dec­o­ra­tions on her class­room walls, ar­ranges text­books and clears stu­dents’ desks, she is do­ing ex­actly that.

Kayla Brand, a first-year teacher, has been col­lect­ing the sup­plies and dec­o­ra­tions that breathe life into her class­room at Live Oak Ele­men­tary School for seven years.

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Brand as she stands ready for a group of fourth-graders to set their back­packs down on Fri­day. “It’s my dream job.”

Brand said she was bad at math un­til a math pro­fes­sor at Pied­mont Col-

I want to in­spire chil­dren to be a life-long learner like me,” Brand said. “It’s hard to put it all into words with­out talk­ing some­one’s ear off for three hours.

—Kayla Brand,

First-year teacher at Live Oak Ele­men­tary

lege, where she grad­u­ated from in 2011, who let stu­dents teach a les­son, “and it clicked.” She said fourth grade is an im­por­tant year in learn­ing be­cause stu­dents are taught to mul­ti­ply and di­vide.

And she is ex­cited for the new cur­ricu­lum be­ing taught, she said, in con­junc­tion with Ge­or­gia Mile­stones, the new test­ing sys­tem re­plac­ing CRCTs and EOCTs. With those tests, only third- and fifth-graders took a writ­ing as­sess­ment, but now ev­ery grade has a fo­cus on writ­ing and con­structed re­sponses.

“There are times I’m sit­ting in my car just get­ting giddy,” Brand said of the days lead­ing up to Au­gust 1.

She used to watch her sis­ter get on the school bus at the bot­tom of the hill they lived on when Brand was four years old and won­dered why her sis­ter was so scared to go to school. She would take school­work from her older sis­ter’s folder on Fri­days to teach her stuffed an­i­mals.

Now, she has real school work to as­sign to real stu­dents, along with a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion and an ex­pected mas­ter’s de­gree in teach­ing by De­cem­ber.

“I want to in­spire chil­dren to be a life­long learner like me,” Brand said. “It’s


hard to put it all into words with­out talk­ing some­one’s ear off for three hours.”

Like big kids them­selves

New teach­ers like Brand are not the only ed­u­ca­tors ready the first bell to ring on Fri­day.

Teach­ers who have been in the New­ton County School Sys­tem for years wasted no time in ready­ing the walls of the halls for them to be filled with shuf­fling shoes.

Ni­cole Walker, a kin­der­garten teacher and 14-year NCSS teacher, said the new writ­ing pro­gram has cre­ated a bond for all teach­ers to “work through it to­gether.”

Kim­berly In­scho, a kin­der­garten teacher who has been in the district for 20 years, said she brought all of her books to her class­room to set up a read­ing area in­stead of bring­ing groups of books back and forth ac­cord­ing to the theme she was cur­rently teach­ing.

“New teach­ers ac­tu­ally came in at a great time be­cause of the new cur­ricu­lum,” In­scho said. “So we’re all like new teach­ers.”

New or re­turn­ing, Ischo said, she and her co­work­ers have be­come close as they pre­pare for the school year. And they all have one thing in com­mon – readi­ness for the ex­cite­ment they will see on their stu­dents’ faces as they get their own desk for the first time.

Both Ischo and Walker said they’re like big kids them­selves.

“I don’t sleep the night be­fore school,” Ischo said, “no mat­ter how long I’ve taught.”

Kayla Robins/The Cov­ing­ton News

Karen Chris­tian and Kenethia Wha­ley in their pre-K class­room. They both have been teach­ing in the county for seven years. This is Chris­tian’s first year and Wha­ley’s fifth year at Live Oak.

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