By Samantha Solliday

    A teacher with a flair for show and an ability to think outside the box is the Elementary Teacher Spotlight for the month.

    Arriving at Ira Cross Elementary School, Killeen ISD human resources and Education Foundation representatives, along with some of the Ira Cross staff were excited to celebrate one creative teacher.

    The crowd opened kindergarten teacher Keyetta Mathis’ colorful door and filled the room with smiles and cheers.

    Mathis grinned from ear to ear, welcoming the group into her room. Principal Thomas Sias explained to her what all the commotion was about.

    “We are here to celebrate Ms. Mathis,” he said. “She does so much for our students. She does extra educational programs for them.

    “She even dresses up in costume and is always celebrating something in her classroom. We are lucky to have her here at Ira Cross.”

    Mathis, now in her fourth year of teaching, was happy to have taken the leap of faith when she left the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to pursue a career in teaching.

    “I was a distribution clerk at UMHB,” she said, “and some of the ladies in the education department reached out to me and asked me to give teaching a try.

    “I got my alternative certification and interviewed at Ira Cross and I have been here ever since.”

    The talented teacher uses all sorts of techniques to get her students involved in their learning.

    “We always do fun things for Dr. Seuss, we make rice crispy treats and do a cookies and milk activity. I want to do things that are rigorous but fun and can relate to their life so they can make those connections.”

    For Mathis, sometimes it can be a challenge to come up with different learning activities to keep her students engaged.

    “I try and always top myself, to get them excited and ready to learn,” she stated, “I want them to experience new things and to be curious about life. We are actually about to have an Easter Egg hunt today.”

    In her classroom, Mathis wants her students to learn how to be good citizens and learn that having good character is important.

    “I want them to learn that we all make mistakes, but that’s ok. We always talk about behavior and doing the right thing.”

    Currently getting her master’s degree in curriculum, she wants other teachers to know how dedicated teachers in the primary grades are.

    “I think a lot of people don’t realize how much work goes into teaching the younger grade levels,” she said. “There is a ton of work we have to do to keep them engaged while maintaining our standards.

    “I eat, breathe and sleep my standards and that helps me create activities that are relevant to my students.”

    Thanking her mentor and the staff of Ira Cross, Mathis wants to encourage all teachers.

    “Think outside of the box and don’t limit your student’s abilities.”

    April 12, 2018

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