Graham’s own Hayley Langford, a third grade teacher at Crestview Elementary School, has been named the 2015 Region 9 Elementary Teacher of the Year.
“It’s a prestigious award,” said Debbie Cummings, Region 9 Education Service Center program coordinator and specialist.
Graham Independent School District is one of 37 districts in Region 9, and Langford was given the prestigious honor on Aug. 1.
She’s been a teacher for almost 20 years since receiving a bachelor of science degree in early childhood from Angelo State University in 1994, and she also recently graduated with a master’s degree in child development from Texas Woman’s University.
Langford started her teaching career in Everman ISD, at Shelby Alternative School in 1995.
For three years she taught children there in grades seven math and various electives to children in grades seven through 12. In 1998 Langford became a kindergarten teacher at E. Ray Elementary School for four years, and then taught first grade there for two years.
In 2004 she made the move to Graham and has taught third grade at Crestview Elementary School for the past 10 years.
As a child, Langford had always had an interest in education.
“My (kindergarten) teacher made such an impression on me,” Langford said. “(It was) because of her love for us that I always compared other teachers to her.”
Langford also helped her sister, who was a young teacher, decorate her classroom for the upcoming school year and observed her sister teach students.
In high school, Langford worked as a volunteer for a summer day camp program at a local church.
“All of these experiences influenced my decision to enter the education field, so as I entered college, I knew I wanted to work with children in some manner.” Langford said. “I did not quite know in what capacity, but I knew I wanted (my admiration for) my kindergarten teacher, my sister, and volunteering to be reflected in my own profession.”
Langford decided to pursue a career in early childhood and math. She said she enjoyed teaching all grade levels and has spent the most time in her career teaching third grade.
By attaining her master’s in child development, she is now convinced of the importance play has on children and their developmental growth.
“I advocated and initiated a before-school-free-play time with my principal, and it was approved,” she said. “After free play on the playground was initiated, children would go outside for five to 10 minutes to play before the bell rang. I noticed the alertness of the children when they entered my room, and the socialization that took place helped prepare them for the education that was to occur.”
Another teaching method Langford uses helps children realize that their classmates are like a family.
“You live with your family, and you’re a family with your students,” she said. “We become a family within the classroom where I strive to have each child know that I truly believe they are an individual and a learner.”
Read more in Wednesday's Graham Leader.