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English teacher Kellee Lyons announced as teacher of the year

English teacher Kellee Lyons was announced as the teacher of the year for the school year of 2020-2021 by fellow staff and coworkers on campus.

Lyons has been teaching for over 22 years and is currently teaching English 1 Honors, English 3 and Advanced Placement Literature. She teaches a variety of students, from freshman to seniors.

“[I choose to teach English] because I simply love to read. I don’t like to travel, but I do love to learn about people and learn about different cultures. The easiest way to do that in the safest way for me is through literature,” Lyons said. “I have my own children who enjoy reading one more than the other. I have lots of nieces and nephews. When they’re little, being able to read to them and seeing the excitement when they have a story told to them even before they can read, makes me so happy and brings me joy. Being able to do that for teenagers — I find that to be challenging, but it’s a challenge that I love doing.”

To receive the teacher of the year award, Lyons was selected by coworkers based on factors including professional growth, connection with students, working with connections, teaching ability and the ability to enhance student experience.

“I’m truly honored and flattered. When it was announced, usually, the Teacher of the Year gets to know ahead of time, because this goes through the district and they have to know, by a certain date, but Dr. Maine was able to actually wait, making it an actual surprise.When it was announced, I was truly shocked,” Lyons said. “It’s very humbling, because it’s the idea that people I work with, see me as, not just as a person, but what I am able to get done in the classroom. They appreciate that and respect that. I am able to get this [award] because of these other teachers. The idea is the support that I have received has made it easier to do my job.”

For Lyons, one of the biggest challenges of the year has been making the switch from in-person learning to distance learning. 

“I have adapted to electronic versions that I could see myself continuing to use that I had never taken the time to learn before because I didn’t need to. But this year it literally brought me to my knees, and it was the most terrible experience because it was having to take what I already felt like I had mastered in teaching and then make it electronically available for all students,” Lyons said. “Then I had this fear all year that I was going to waste the time of the students. I didn’t want them to sit there for 18 minutes and think I need this to be over because this is so boring or this is so worthless. I was constantly trying to make sure that everything I did in the class would help the students leave the zoom meeting thinking, ‘Okay, that was time well spent.’”

Despite many disadvantages to distance learning, Lyons has found a way to reach students through the usage of Google Chat.

“I’ve actually been using Google Chat all year, and that has been one of the best things because it has actually helped me check in with students and give them a check up to see how they are doing,” Lyons said. “I am very business oriented — I’ve got a job I need to do, which is to teach literature and how to analyze it, and to hopefully give students a love for literature. But sometimes I get so engrossed in that, that I really don’t spend time making sure the students are okay.”

After 22 years of teaching, Lyons has learned many new life changing lessons that she plans to pass on to other staff members and students. 

“My advice [to students] is that, recognizing [teachers] and thanking them for still being there. Many students had chaos in their background quite often, and so did the teachers with their own children, trying to make sure that they were going through distance learning,” Lyons said. “It is just amazing how humbling distance learning has been. It’s been reminding me, and reminding all of us that, no matter how long we’ve been teaching it, every year is different. This year reminded me of that more than any other year.”

By Samuel Au, Feature Editor
Photo courtesy of Kellee Lyons