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SONIC Limeades for Learning December Teacher of the Month: The Joy of Seeing a Child Experience an “Ah-ha!” Moment

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SONIC’s November Teacher of the Month is Lynly Hill who teaches Kindergarten at Poinciana Elementary School in Key West, Fla.

Below, Lynly explains how rewarding teaching can be, and why teachers need to find their crew to succeed.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I knew I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. I would always go to help the other kids in class. I would assist family and friends with babysitting. I helped coach cheerleading and taught dance when I was a teenager. Everything I did pointed to me being a teacher.

My kindergarten teacher was always very special to me, and I have so many memories of that year. I would go visit her in her classroom anytime I got a chance. It was so fun to get to teach with her for a few years at my elementary school before she retired.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I enjoy seeing the “light bulb” turn on. When teaching kindergarten, I think we get to experience this more than other grade levels. You can see when a student says a word on their own, puts those sounds together, and realizes they read for the first time. Or when they see a pattern in math and are able to use it to solve a problem.

Getting to see students have the “ah-ha” moments is priceless. I love when I hear them repeating part of the lesson to a friend. They are able to teach it to one another, showing their mastery. Teaching is just amazing.

What advice do you have for fellow educators? 

We are teaching in a very difficult time. Sometimes we need to just close our classroom door, block out everything that does not have to do with those students in our class, and teach.

We have always been there for “our kids,” because that is what they are once they step into our room. We need to keep doing just that. We need to look out for the whole child and not just grades. Build relationships first and everything else will fall into place. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to friends, colleagues, admin—we are all here for each other.

What are some ways you stay inspired as a teacher?

Sometimes you need to sit back and watch. Put a problem out for your students to solve and watch how all the skills you taught come together to make something wonderful. Stop in and watch another teacher on your planning time, and leave him or her a note complimenting something you thought was amazing in their classroom. Talk to a former student about their time with you. I love when I run into a former student and they tell me what they are accomplishing, or share something they remember from their year with me.

What’s something important a mentor has taught you in your teaching career?

Get it done. I have been surrounded by quite a few strong women in leadership roles, all with the power to push through and get done whatever needs to be done. Don’t let an obstacle stand in your way. There is always a way around or a different solution to the problem. Make it up if you have to, just get it done. There are always paths that need to be paved—be the one to do it.

What professional relationships have you found most beneficial in your teaching career?

Your grade-level team is your family and life support. Our team isn’t just a weekly meeting. We check on each other in and outside of work. We make sure that not only the teacher is supported, but the person. Yes, we plan school together, but we make sure to make it more than that. Even if you don’t have a grade-level team, find your crew. Teachers need support, not just in lesson planning.

How can community members and brands best support teachers? Why is it important?

DonorsChoose is usually what I suggest to people. It’s an easy way for everyone near and far to support classrooms. You can find local schools or help a school far away with something that is important to you.

The matches from brands really help enhance DonorsChoose and are always much appreciated. SONIC collaborating with DonorsChoose is a prime example. DonorsChoose shows teachers how they are supported by people from all over. I always feel so appreciated when a project gets funded for my students.

This story is part of an ongoing series.