Kristin Wyckoff (center, in pink) poses with a class at Mustang North Middle School. Wyckoff is the MNMS Teacher of the Year.
Wyckoff named MNMS Teacher of the Year
Kristin Wyckoff, 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Mustang North Middle School, was named the school's Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015. She's one of 13 site winners vying for the title of District Teacher of the Year.
She's been teaching for six years and has never had a concept of herself outside of teaching and learning. Every Christmas growing up she asked for teaching supplies. She kept up with her own grade-book where she would make up grades for her "class" and average them.
When Wyckoff was in the third grade, her mother was toying with the idea of sending her younger sister to preschool.
"I asked my mom, 'Instead of sending her to preschool, can I be her preschool teacher?' Her mother, who is also a teacher, agreed. "She helped me a create a curriculum."
Wyckoff taught her sister her colors, numbers and letters. She would read her sister a second-grade science book and then encourage her to point out answers in the pictures.
"It was so fun," she said. "I got so much joy out of that."
A graduate of Lookeba-Sickles, Wyckoff earned a teaching degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. After student teaching she fell in love with middle schoolers but she felt led to college ministry as well. For two years she worked with Campus Crusade for Christ. She took over for someone at Mustang North Middle School six-and-a-half years ago.
"I think middle schoolers are hilarious and they think I'm funny," she said. "More importantly, a middle schooler is at such a tender age. I think many of them are having to make grown up decisions and see grown things but they're not grown up. I feel very burdened to intersect a middle schooler's life, to help them in whatever way I can. Middle school was a difficult time for me, and I feel like I can relate to a lot of their issues."
Wyckoff watches for the students who may be targets for bullies. Her room is a safe place where the students learn how to express themselves.
"Students often feel constricted because they have valid things to say but may not know how," she said. "It's important for them to know how to articulate that and have confidence in what they want to convey."
Wyckoff believes her students listen and learn because they know she loves them. She wants to know their stories and is willing to let them know hers.
Three years ago when Wyckoff and her husband married, she handed out a wedding invitation to every student in all of her classes. One day in class she opened discussion for them all to give her marriage advice. Between Wyckoff and her husband, who is also an educator, more than 60 students dressed for the occasion and showed up for the reception. Many took pictures and presented her with a scrapbook.
"Having them there on the most important day of my life is something very dear to me. I really do enjoy them. That's not to say that there aren't days in teaching that aren't really hard," she said. "But the students are never the hard part. The hard part is not being able to fix the negative things in my students' lives."
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Allison Reyes, Mustang Trails' Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015, works with students on improving math skills.
Reyes named Teacher of the Year for Mustang Trails
Allison Reyes, Title I math teacher at Mustang Trails Elementary, was named the school's Teacher of the Year for 2014-2015. It's the second time she's been given the honor. She's been with Mustang Public Schools for 15 years.
Reyes, a graduate of Yukon High School, struggled with combining reading and math when she was in school. She now spends her day, in 30 minute increments, helping students master the subject.
"It's just something I love - to work with kids who struggle," she said. "I was one of those kids who struggled in math. I wasn't good with test-taking skills. Every one I get, they struggle. It's very rewarding to be able to help them."
In addition to an education degree, Reyes minored in math. She first started teaching algebra and pre-algebra at Mustang Middle School. Her student teaching was in second-grade at Ole Miss, where she went to play softball. When the opportunity presented itself, she moved to Lakehoma Elementary for seven years before transferring to second-grade at Trails. When the Title I math teacher retired, she took the job.
"This is something I was just meant to do," she said.
Reyes gets to school at 7 a.m. for any student who wants to come in early and work on math. Some have improved their math skills enough they are no longer pulled out of their regular classroom for her program, but they still come for math practice in the morning.
Her room is a cornucopia of math tools and her lessons a fast-paced flurry of activity. As many ways as there are for students to learn, Reyes has an arsenal of ways to help them. For the 30 minute class, it's difficult to fit in a fraction of the possibilities. When she picks up a group of students at their classroom, she typically has them involved in a lesson on the way to her room. When it's time to leave, they practice skills on the way out the door to fit in all the math learning they can in the time allotted.
On Fridays, she monitors their progress and visits with teachers. Every week she makes a plan to tailor the lessons to their weaknesses.
"There is so much more involved in math than just math. I want to get away from just memorizing two plus two is four. I want them to realize math has meaning and for them to make a connection. I want the kids to understand when they're doing a fact how they can associate that with something."
She stresses to her students to focus on the next small goal and she has them chart their progress. Each gain on the graph is a taste of success, something that may be new for many of Reyes' students in math.
"I think for some kids, that's all they need," she said. "They figure out, 'Hey, I can do this.' I love the kids I get to work with. I love to see progress. For some of these kiddos, we're the only stability they may have. Working with them is just something I yearn for."
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