Exceptional education teacher helps students get back on grade level

Published 10:21 am Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Editor’s Note: This is the next story in an ongoing series featuring teachers of the year in the Troup County School System.

Caley Yeary is an exceptional education teacher and Teacher of the Year nominee at Rosemont Elementary School. She teaches resource reading to students of all grade levels. Yeary, a Texas native, gained her bachelor’s from Texas A&M, then went on to receive her master’s in special education at the University of Texas.

Yeary moved to Georgia four and a half years ago with her boyfriend, but she said that her Texas roots and daily life help her connect with students.

“All my students pretty much know I’m from Texas and that there’s cows. Some of them are into tractors, my dad has a tractor,” Yeary said. “They all know that I like to run when I’m not at school. I like to go for jogs. They know I like the beach.”

The similarities between Texas and Georgia are evident to Yeary as well.

“They’re both southern states and the way teachers teach where I was is the way that we teach here. It’s for the student [and] the kids’ best interest,” Yeary said.

Yeary said she tries to make sure that she builds relationship with each student, whether that’s through talking to them about her life or asking them about theirs.

“The last year I have really tried to build relationships. Every day I try to start my class with ‘tell me something good,’ so that we can start on a positive note where everybody feels like I’ve heard them and listened to them,” Yeary said.

The students Yeary teaches all have a disability, and she works with them in a smaller group to help them reach their grade level academically. Yeary said the disability can vary by student, so she individualizes her teaching for what each student requires.

“Some might have another health impairment, like ADHD, and just need a quiet, smaller environment to process things. Some might have a learning disability,” Yeary said. “Some students might have a diagnosis from the doctor of autism, and we’ve got some that are just younger and developmentally delayed.”

Yeary said she relates to her students in a small way as she did not enjoy reading growing up.

“Growing up, I never truly enjoyed reading. It was a harder thing for me to learn. I tell this to my kids every year. It was not easy for me, but my parents helped and then I had fabulous teachers that supported me and helped me,” Yeary said.

Each student comes into Yeary’s classroom with a problem unique to them, and Yeary works toward creating a solution for them as well. Seeing hard work payoff is always a rewarding moment for her.

Yeary said two students come to mind when thinking on this: one a girl who she has worked with for several years to get on grade level and a boy who is now back in his own classroom.

“Getting on her level and being able to, over the last few years, build a relationship with her where she trusted me and trusted us,” Yeary said. “Now she’s at a point where she’s thriving and doesn’t need much help and is successful.”

“We’ve recently just moved him back to the general-ed classroom where he’s not coming to resource reading, which is such a celebration,” Yeary said. “He just like had a pep in his step. And he was just hopping down the hall with a smile on his face.”

Yeary said her mom inspired her to be a teacher.

“The main thing is that my mom was a teacher when I was growing up, so I spent hours every afternoon in her classroom, pretending to be a teacher with my sister or other kids in the building,” Yeary said. “I would go home and sub at the school my mom was a principal at. I spent some time in a special-ed classroom setting, and I really enjoyed it.”

Yeary said she has one hope for every student that she teaches.

“I hope they would say that I was caring and loving and listened to them,” Yeary said. “It’s important to reach the whole child. We push academics a lot, and that’s very important, but looking at the child’s emotional and psychological state is very important [too].”