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.