By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
On Tuesday night, Mooreville Middle School teacher Tracy Lyle was selected as the Lee County School District’s Teacher of the Year. Lyle was chosen by a panel of three retired teachers from among the Teacher of the Year winners from each of the district’s schools.
As Mississippi debates ways to improve its education system, the Daily Journal’s Chris Kieffer asked Lyle about what makes a good teacher and what inspires her as an educator.
Q: What do you feel are the most important traits and factors of a good teacher?
A: Someone once said that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I firmly believe that you must be a compassionate person to be effective in the classroom. My students come from a variety of backgrounds; I must care about where they come from and what is going on in their lives if I expect them to care about me and what I have to teach them.
Flexibility also plays an important role in my classroom. Things are not always going to go exactly as planned. I must be able to adapt to whatever situation presents itself in my room.
Q: What inspired you to become an educator?
A: My choice of childhood friends receives full credit for my chosen profession. It took a village to raise me. When I was five, my newly divorced mother was faced with the daunting task of raising four children while working a full-time job to support us. My summers were spent with my best friends and their families, and most of my best friends’ parents were teachers. I learned that these mothers had the best of both worlds – working during school hours, yet being home to help with school projects, cook supper and tuck their children in at night. I will forever be grateful for Ramon Correro, Sherry Pittman, Betty Chandler, Betty Welford and Linda Hand. I can never repay them for their kindness.
Q: I know teaching, like any profession, has its good days and its bad days. What motivates you as a teacher when things are difficult?
A: My motivation is knowing that I may be the only bright spot in some of my students’ days. My room may be the only place a child feels safe. My kind words may be the only kind words a student hears. My smile may be the only smile they witness during the day. I try to remember that just because I am having a bad day not everyone else has to have one too.