2017 Blackboard Award Honoree: Kaitlyn Ryan

Kaitlyn Ryan, photo by Marcus Photography

Editor’s note: To read profiles of all 2017 Blackboard Awards honorees, click HERE!

Kaitlyn Ryan
Grade 8, Special Education & Social Studies
Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School

Tell us about some of the special joys and challenges you’ve experienced as
a teacher.

Helping my students to discover what makes each one of them an incredible human is one of the greatest joys I have found in teaching. The small moments throughout my day are often the most rewarding.

Please share a special project or achievement that you are particularly proud of from this year.

In our most recent unit on Women and The American Dream, my students worked together to answer the question: “Do women have the same opportunity to achieve the American Dream as men?” Throughout the unit, students read three anchor texts: Sojourner Truth’s speech “Ain’t I a Woman?,” Shirley Chisholm’s Equal Rights for Women, and Venus Williams’ speech, “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second-Class Champion.” Students used these texts to develop and support their own claims about women and the American Dream.

Richard Mantell (United Federation of Teachers), Kaitlyn Ryan, Jonathan Moore (Family Media), and Cleo Wade (Poet). Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

Over the course of your career, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

One of my greatest accomplishments is the girls’ basketball program that I established at my school. Growing up, I did not have many strong female coaches. My goal four years ago when I started the program was less about teaching the game and more about teaching leadership, teamwork, and sportsmanship qualities that my players could carry with them throughout their lives. My student-athletes are outstanding young women that continue to inspire me with their dedication to bettering themselves in both academics and athletics.

What keeps you motivated and committed to being a dedicated
and hard-working educator?

Relationships with my students keep me motivated to be the best educator I can be. From the first moment I stepped into a classroom I have made it a priority to build and maintain a unique connection with each one of the students I teach (and even those I don’t). I believe that being a daily role model to over 100 students is a sacred opportunity and I let my students know that it is one that I take very seriously. I do my best to inspire them to be their best selves and they constantly inspire me to be my best self.