Kayla was very interested in attending a school that had a strong program for education majors. After speaking with an admissions counselor who pointed out that education majors were placed in a teaching environment in the surrounding schools freshman year, she knew she had to make a visit to High Point University. Of course the campus sold itself, but more than that, she decided to apply for early admission after being satisfied that High Point offered everything she was looking for as a Special Education major. “The experience of working with the students in the classroom for four years has had a tremendous impact on my overall education. I have had amazing opportunities. The faculty goes above and beyond and is always helpful and encouraging. I would not be who I am today if not for their guidance,” Kayla stated.
Kayla credits an organization called “Special People United to Ride” (SPUR) for her decision to pursue a career in teaching. Throughout high school she volunteered at SPUR teaching special needs children and adults how to ride horses. She was inspired by the growth in these individuals and the excitement when their goals were accomplished. This program had such an impact on their lives, and she wanted to continue being a part of the teaching process. Kayla says “the students I have worked with at SPUR were the biggest influence in my decision to major in Special Education. Working with these students was my favorite part of the week. I wanted to be able to help more children achieve their potential.”
In addition to her studies at High Point university, she is also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, Kappa Delta Pi, National Society for Leadership and Success, Council for Exceptional Children, a presidential scholar and the president of the Council for Exceptional Children
After graduation, Kayla would like to continue to conduct educational research and teach students with severe disabilities. She is planning to travel and learn more about international education systems and see what the world has to offer. In addition she would like to continue my formal education in a masters program. Her hobbies include philanthropy work, she currently volunteer at Horse Power. She also loves to read historical nonfiction and go horseback riding whenever she can.
Kayla hopes in the future to have the same positive impact on her future students that the faculty at HPU have had on her. She wants them to know they have her support and teach them that they can set high goals and achieve them. She wants to “bring compassion and a willingness to help” and “be the influence in their lives that encourages learning.”
Some of Kayla’s other accomplishments while at HPU include conducting research with Dr. Sarah Vess on the efficacy of tier 2 interventions at a middle school. She presented this research at Big SURS in the spring of 2013 and was a co presenter at the North Carolina School Psychologist Association fall conference with Dr. Vess and other school psychologists from Guilford County. She will be presenting her findings on utilizing an Rti service learning program to train pre service teachers at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in the spring.
Please join us in congratulating Kayla on her recognition as our Student of the Month as well as all her accomplishments at High Point University.
November – John Yankello
When asked what were his deciding factors in selecting High Point University, John stated, “First of all, I knew I wanted to be in the South. This narrowed my choices immediately. Also, I was searching for a school that demonstrated a true passion in Elementary Education as well as facilitating my Cross Country/Track and Field needs. As soon as I met with everybody at High Point University, I knew this was the place for me. I knew all of the professors would truly care about my growth and development, which is extremely important for a future teacher such as myself.” He was inspired to become a teacher after taking a class in high school as a Teacher’s Assistant. It made him think about all of the incredible teachers he had over the years and how they shaped him as a student and as a person. “I knew from that moment that I wanted to have a similar impact on the students that need it most.”
John was inspired to choose Elementary Education as his major by two teachers. His third grade teacher, Mrs. Wormsley, was “probably the best teacher I’ve ever had when it comes to the well-being of her students. I didn’t realize it at the time, but every single aspect of her classroom was designed to make children feel empowered and confident. It was obvious that teaching was more than a job, it was her calling,” says John. The other major influence was his 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Hoepp. He said that more than anybody else, she made learning entertaining. “There seems to be this assumption that learning has to be strict and focused at all times. We were truly enjoying class every single day, and learning more in that hour block than at any other point in the day.”
Aside from his hectic classroom schedule, he is also a captain of the Division 1 Cross Country Team here at High Point University, as well as a member of the Division 1 Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Teams. He is a member of Kappa Delta Pi (the education honor society), NSLS (National Society for Leadership and Success), Alpha Chi Honor Society (top 10% of Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate students) and is also an HPU Presidential Scholar.
One of the main focuses John says he will have as a teacher is to encourage all students to be themselves. He says “the educational system in the US is (unintentionally) wiping out creativity and self-expression. No two students are the same, so I will do my best to differentiate in order to bring out the best in all of them.”
John is in the process of putting together a 100-mile run to raise money for Project Fit America, a charity focused on the health and wellness of the youth in the US. If you would like to donate to this cause, please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After graduating with his BA in Elementary Education in May 2014, he will continue at HPU in the School of Education’s BA to M.Ed. in Elementary Education with a focus in S.T.E.M.
Again, congratulations to John, our November Student of the Month”!
October – Marith McMahon
Marith McMahon is currently a senior majoring in Elementary Education at HPU. She is pursuing the B.A. to M.Ed. program in Literacy. Marith is from a large family of six siblings from Amagansett, New York and therefore says that working with children has always been a passion of hers.
According to Marith, the School of Education has provided me with a plethora of opportunities over the past few years including being a member of both the NCAEE (North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators and Teachers of Tomorrow, participating in the 9/26 discussion with Mr. Dennis Bega, Senior Policy Advisor for Secretary Arne Duncan from the U.S. Department of Education, and attending Guilford County Schools Staff Development. According to Marith, “All of these fieldwork experiences have better prepared me for a future in education.
Outside of the School of Education Marith is involved in other organizations on campus that have enhanced her college experience. As a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, she serves as a Committee Chairman as well as an Arc Group Leader. During Marith’s freshman year at HPU she served as Hall Council Vice President for the University Center, and the Executive Board for the IRC. Additionally, Marith has enjoyed assisting new students as they transition to college life through the Peer Mentor program, and furthering her involvement in campus Greek life by serving on the Panhellenic Extension Committee.
As a current intern in a fourth grade classroom at Jamestown Elementary school, Marith has been thrilled with the hands on learning that the HPU School of Education has provided her. After graduation this coming May, she plans to stay in High Point, for another year to complete her Master’s Degree in Literacy. Marith states that eventually her dream is to move back home to New York and pursue a career in education. According to Marith, “It is an honor to have the support of some of the most significant educators in our School of Education here at High Point University. Our exposure to activism in our profession is so purposeful. I am blessed to have the privilege to work with such driven mentors on this campus who make me so motivated and passionate to enter the teaching field!”