Students say Katie King is a true queen at Hogansville Elementary School

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is working on stories on all of the teachers recognized as teachers of the year in The Troup County School System.

HOGANSVILLE Katie King is one of the 25 teachers of Troup County School System nominated for Teacher of the Year. King came to Hogansville in 2018 after graduating from Lee University and is currently in her fourth year at Hogansville Elementary.

Gina Turner, the principal at Hogansville Elementary, initially hired King to work in the Opportunities Room at the school for students who may be struggling or having behavioral issues.

“When the end of the year came and I was named as the principal [in 2018], she’s the first person I went to. And I said, ‘I’m handing you a contract, please tell me you will stay here,’” Turner said. 

King accepted the contract and is now teaching as an ELA and Social Studies teacher in fifth grade. This is her first year eligible for the Teacher of the Year award, and King is grateful for the nomination.

“I’m just very grateful. This staff is wonderful. And I know it’s voted upon, so I’m really grateful for them,” King said.

She also coaches the track team for the school. Jonathan Garcia, an 11-year-old student and former track runner, said King inspired him.

“She really inspired me to never give up,” Garcia said. “I was stuck on this one lesson. I just remember back to whenever I was on track, I just never gave up kept on running even if my foot was hurting. And I tried my hardest on that one lesson (and) passed it. Then, on the rest, I just started flying through them.”

Phebe Griffies, a 12-year-old in King’s class, said she often acted like more than a teacher and coach to her students.

“She treats us like [her] own children, and she’s just the nicest teacher I’ve ever had at the school,” Griffies said.

The family atmosphere is intentional on King’s part as she wants each kid to feel like they are coming home when they arrive. 

“I want them to feel like when they come in that they’re safe and that they’re comfortable,” King said. “I want them to feel like it’s a safe place where they can learn because if you don’t feel safe and comfortable, then no learning is going to happen.”

King actively works to keep her classroom learning throughout the day. 

“From the moment they walk in the door until the moment they leave, I have to be busy. I have to be smiling at them, engaging with them, making sure they’re learning, making sure they’re safe, making sure they are full, everything. So that’s kind of my mantra is just get busy, stay busy,” King said.

One of the biggest ways she keeps them engaged is by getting them to connect their life to the books they read in class.

“They don’t realize that when they’re reading, they’re learning about so many life lessons,” King said.  “I’m teaching them, every single book you read will teach you something. It’s going to teach you a life lesson.”

Makayla McNeil, an 11-year-old student of King’s, remembers a moment where what she learned in King’s class showed up in her life.

“I think it was at the Hummingbird Festival or somewhere else, I don’t really remember. But I went somewhere and I saw this whole board and it had stuff about Spanish history. And I’m like, ‘oh, that’s from Esperanza Rising!’ So yeah, that came in handy,” McNeil said.

However, for some students like 10-year-old Jayden Strickland, their favorite moments with King happen away from the classroom.

“My favorite time with her was at recess because she always tried to have fun with us. If we were playing like freeze tag, she’ll go out there and play with us,” Strickland said. 

Her students say that when King plays freeze tag with them it is where her funny and playful side comes out the most.

“She’s silly and playful when she plays with us, like freeze tag and stuff,” McNeil said.

“Every time we play at recess, she always tries to make us laugh when she’s frozen,” Garcia said.

“Some people like Katie have it all, and have it all at a very young age,” Turner said. “(She is) able to build relationships with children, able to connect with parents and have a trust between the home and the school, able to deliver content in a way that students are engaged, and able to pull out of students things that a lot of people cannot pull out of students.”