Pyle enjoys instructing students in all subjects

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By Scott Akanewich

When Courtney Pyle made the decision to pursue a career in education, she was certain of one thing.

“I chose elementary education so I could work with younger children and teach all subject areas,” said Pyle. “The younger children really touch my heart. I love watching their minds grow as they inquire about the world around them.”

For her continuing efforts, Pyle was recently named Rancho Sienna Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.

Pyle currently teaches kindergarten, which she has for six years after having taught first grade and pre-kindergarten each for a year, and has been at Rancho Sienna since the school opened three years ago.

Returning to her theme of having a passion to shape the youngest of minds, Pyle said the willingness of students at that early age to learn and soak up as much as they can lights a fire within her, as well as the fact they look up to who is showing them the way.

“I chose a career in education because I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives,” she said. “I’ve absolutely loved being a teacher and I especially like working with the younger students because they have so much enthusiasm and admiration for their teachers.”

According to Pyle, the familial atmosphere that exists at Rancho Sienna is perhaps the most enjoyable aspect when she steps onto the campus and into her classroom each day – a factor that makes receiving the award that much more special.

“It’s a very big honor to be chosen as Rancho Sienna’s Teacher of the Year,” said Pyle. “I’ve always felt the staff there was more of a family than simply co-workers. What I get most out of teaching is loving my students and teaching them to love others, as well. My students always know that no matter what is going on in their lives, they can come to school each and every day and feel safe and loved and their teacher will welcome them with a warm smile and a big hug.”

Rancho Sienna Principal Melanie Bowman realizes the gem she has in Pyle as far as her never-ending selflessness and desire and ability to enrich everyone’s experience.

“Mrs. Pyle is a champion for herself, her students and our kinder team each and every day. If there’s a problem, she’s the first one to come up with as many solutions as possible,” she said. “If a student is having a tough day, she does whatever she can to bring a smile to their face. If someone on our team needs a favor, she’s the first to volunteer her time and effort. Rancho and our kinder team wouldn’t be the same without her – we love and appreciate her so much.”

Bowman added the fact Pyle is always on the go with her many responsibilities – both in and out of school – makes it that much more remarkable she can accomplish so much.

“Courtney always has a positive attitude even when times are tough,” she said. “She has a very busy personal life with her children and still manages to be an amazing mother and teacher.”

However, maintaining a status quo in the classroom simply doesn’t get it done for Pyle.

“She’s constantly trying to come up with better ways to do things in the school and classroom,” said Bowman. “If anyone ever needs help with something, she’s always willing to jump in and help. Courtney is always willing to step in and lend a hand when somebody needs assistance – she never needs to be asked.”

But, perhaps the most valuable aspect of Pyle is simply the endearing personality she brings.

“Even with challenges, she puts on a smile – she’s constantly our team’s cheerleader,” said Bowman. “We can always count on her to lift others up with words of affirmation, a smile and a hug. She does this for everyone on our team and our campus, as well as our students.”

Pyle said she also takes great satisfaction in laying down a solid base for young students to build on as they begin their educational journeys.

“I think every grade has its challenges,” she said. “But, teaching kindergarten is a very important role because we’re building the foundation for students for what’s to come in future years. If they don’t have a strong foundation, they’ll continue to struggle in school. In kindergarten, students learn how to read, so it’s imperative we work very hard to ensure every student has the tools they will need to be ready for the next school year. When kindergarten students begin the year with us, they’re like a blank slate and we have the opportunity and privilege to teach them social skills and leave a lasting impression.”

Sometimes enough of a lasting impression to inspire youngsters to aspire to emulate those guiding them along the educational trail, said Pyle.

“When we discuss careers and the children express what they want to be when they ‘grow up,’ I always tell them they can do anything they put their mind to. I love being a support for them in their successes.”

Being a teacher these days requires much more than just standing in front of students. It takes the ability to educate oneself in how to identify the needs of individual students – something modern technology has enabled Pyle and her fellow educators to engage in despite the fact the process is a constant evolution that must be reacted to accordingly and expertly, she said.

“Teaching has continued to grow and change over the years,” said Pyle. “We collect a lot more data on students to ensure they’re not falling behind and collaborate across the campus and at the district level to see where they’re succeeding, so we can continue to use those strategies. We also see where students are struggling the most so we can improve our techniques as teachers to help every student be successful.”

Despite the fact it’s always difficult to say goodbye at each year’s end, Pyle said the biggest gratification comes from helping the light bulb go on when a student grasps a concept after initially struggling.

“The best aspect of being a teacher is making a difference in children’s lives,” she said. “When you see a child falling behind academically, you work with them one-on-one to help them succeed and spend countless hours researching more techniques to help the child and that moment when they ‘get it’ is the best feeling in the world.”

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