Mrs. Vaughnda Yates, first grade teacher at Myrtle Attendance Center, recently received the Myrtle Teacher of the Year award.
Yates is a teacher that prides herself on teaching reading and writing to her students, which is a common element in her literacy-based classroom.
“I was very surprised to receive this award, but I also felt very honored because we have very good teachers here on our staff,” she said.
Yates has a total of 25 years in the teaching profession. She has worked at Myrtle Attendance Center since 2003, she worked in Amory for 12 years, in Greenville for four years, and worked for one year at a private school. For a majority of these years, she worked as a first grade teacher.
“Once I started teaching first grade, I fell in love with it – it is so rewarding. I don’t think there is any other grade where you can see the amount of growth academically from the beginning of the school year to the end of the school year,” Yates said. “It is real rewarding to know that you have helped a child with reading. Reading opens the door to all areas of life.”
The students in Mrs. Yates’s classroom have the opportunity to get free reading time and she said that they really enjoy that. One of her students, Tyler Turner, age 7, said, “That is good that she got an award. She is a very good teacher. She teaches me about reading and I like it.”
She said, “I have a big responsibility to help them become strong readers. I also feel that there is a strong connection between reading and writing, putting pencil to paper, and putting thoughts down on paper.”
Yates said that children that come from homes in which their parents or guardians interact with them often and read to them often, seem to absorb the reading quicker. “I am a big believer in early childhood education and early childhood development,” she said.
She said that she loves introducing her students to books they have never read before and since she emphasizes reading and writing as important tools in life, her students have a reading corner in the classroom and have specific time set aside for reading.
In addition to reading, Yates also exposes the students to other concepts like mathematics, science, sounding out words, telling time, counting money, history, etc.
“This age is fun to teach. They still love their teacher, they want to please their teacher so they try hard, and they are competitive with the other children, so they try harder to do what the other children are doing,” said Yates. “Hopefully before they leave my class, they will read to be a good student and read to enjoy reading.”
Kinsley Gordon, 6, one of her students, said, “I like her very much. She’s nice and sweet. She’s a good, good person.”
Another student, Lily Jeter, 6, said, “She is a good teacher. She teaches me everything and how to read and write. She is a nice teacher.”
Yates is married to Ronnie Yates and has been a member of First United Methodist Church in New Albany since 2004. They have three children and three grandchildren. Their children are Kristen Turner of Tupelo, Miss., Kyle Yates of Memphis, Tenn., and Rob Yates of Louisville, Miss., which is where their grandchildren live. The Yates’s grandchildren are Reed, 4, Luke, 2, and Mary Flynn, two months old. Her hobbies include reading, shopping, some gardening, and spending time with her grandchildren.
Yates plans to retire at some point in time and spend time with her grandchildren, but plans to still be involved with literacy.