Amy Slaydon, a second grade teacher, has been named the 2021-2022 East Beauregard Elementary Teacher of the Year.
She said she believes that learning derives from relationships, and she strives to create an atmosphere of belonging from the first day of school in her classroom.
“Students need to know that we care about them before they can learn anything from us,” she said. “In my classroom, we are a family. We love each other, help each other, support each other, and sometimes we fuss and disagree with each other, but we are first and foremost a family.”
Students in Slaydon’s classroom have nicknames, cheer for each other, admit when they have wronged someone and apologize, and laugh and joke with each other all in a safe and supportive environment.
“Our relationships come first;” she said, “learning always follows that.”
Anyone who has been around Slaydon’s classroom will hear her telling her students, “Be a problem-solver!” She said believes teaching students to be able to think and sort things out for themselves is a life lesson that will serve them well into their adult years.
“I do not want my students to expect me or others to always tell them the answers or to fix their problems,” she explained. “Children who take responsibility for themselves now will become adults who take responsibility for their choices and actions later in life.”
In addition, students who learn to problem solve will be more productive and successful in their academic pursuits and other activities. Slaydon said she believes creating an atmosphere where students can work out problems, sometimes get the wrong answers in the process, and then finally develop a workable solution on their own are students who will be able to meet challenges in the future, in both the classroom and in life.
Slaydon has been teaching second grade at East Beauregard Elementary for three years, where she is also a member of the PBIS Team and is a math tutor. Prior to her employment with EBE, she taught first grade for six years in Allen Parish and was a child welfare specialist with the Vernon Parish Department of Children and Family Services for seven years.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and holds a Louisiana certification in elementary education.
Her favorite thing about teaching is the relationships she forms with her students. She loves to see former students in the community or in the halls at school, get a hug, and catch up on what they are doing.
Additionally, she enjoys those moments when her students understand a new skill or successfully solve a problem. Those moments make her proud of her students and the work that they are accomplishing.
Her advice to new teachers is that teaching is worth it. Investing in students’ lives is important work, and she encourages her colleagues to make it count. Seeking guidance and support from other teachers who love teaching is essential to growing as an educator. She also encourages new teachers to ask questions and be flexible.
She points out that, as an educator, she needs support from parents, administrators, community members, and fellow teachers.
“It takes all of us working together to really impact children’s lives,” she explained.
Slaydon said she teaches because she loves learning and wants her students to love learning.
“In second grade, we work on becoming stronger readers and improving our math skills,” she concluded, “but we also learn how to think independently and become problem solvers. Seeing my students take responsibility for their learning is such an amazing feeling.”
Written by Staff Reports