Teacher of the year revealed

Being interrupted in class isn’t something most teachers love, but on Tuesday, an interruption made the day for teacher Cynthia Kays who was named the school’s teacher of the year. 

“I was getting ready to teach my class, and they walked in playing music and bringing in balloons and I was really shocked,” Kays said. “I was super excited because it was voted off of my peers and it just made it even more special. I just wasn’t expecting it. The group I was in made it even more special because I’ve worked with all of them and when you work with everyone here it’s a family. So having you guys vote for me was really special and it touched my heart.” 

I was super excited because it was voted off of my peers and it just made it even more special,

— Teacher of the Year Cynthia Kays

The process to name the teacher of the year has several steps that range from the number of righteous Redhawks a teacher receives to how does a teacher exemplifies the school’s core values. From there, teachers vote, and Kays was the winner. Being able to deliver the news to her in person is a highlight for principal Ashley Rainwater. 

“It’s just wonderful for teachers to be really recognized for what they do. I think especially in the last year it’s been really hard for a lot of teachers, and I feel like sometimes people don’t notice the work they do,” Rainwater said. “When we walk in with the balloons and everything it always takes them a minute to figure out what is going on, and generally their immediate response is ‘How can it be me? There are so many other amazing teachers. How is it me?’. I think as teachers we always learn to celebrate and support other people so it’s a little hard for us to realize that we’re the one being celebrated.”

Junior Caroline Grace Caruso works with Kays as part of the Best Buddies program and it’s no surprise to her that Kays is this year’s teacher of the year. 

“I feel like Ms. Kays is the type of person where when you walk into the room you just know that she’s very supportive and very welcoming. Her demeanor is so warm, and she’s like a bright light. She’s also very encouraging. She’s the type of teacher where she’s not just going to tell you what to do and how to get there. She’s going to walk with you along the way and we’re going to be in this together,” Caruso said. “With Best Buddies, she has guided us through so many different things and challenges we’ve come across in our chapter, but she’s also been there for when we need to take a step back and gauge the situation.”

She’s going to walk with you along the way and we’re going to be in this together.

— junior Caroline Grace Caruso

For Kays, it’s all about the students and making them feel welcome.

“Watching these kids just being included and seeing them not only be a part of the school but also society. Watching the kids that don’t talk a lot and don’t mingle a lot were involved in everything we did,” Kays said. “We’ve gone to volleyball games and we go to sonic and you know they go and talk to people some people that don’t talk or get involved are getting involved and I think that’s the big thing.”