MTC '18 Spotlight: Zoe Kayton
NAME: ZOE KAYTON
COLLEGE: AMHERST COLLEGE
PLACEMENT: GREENWOOD HIGH SCHOOL
1. What made you want to join the Mississippi Teacher Corps?
I have been teaching in various capacities since I was in high school. I’ve tutored adult English learners, taught two summer leadership courses for teenagers, and led a Judaic school class for 4th-6th graders for two years. The summer before my senior year of college, I experimented with something new and worked at a nonprofit. After trading the classroom for an office, I missed teaching and knew I wanted to be at the helm of a classroom. Honestly, I found MTC from a Google search (try keywords: free masters public school teacher) and the cohort model was what most appealed to me about MTC. I knew it would give me a sense of community in a new place and a group of people to learn with. I wanted to go straight into my own classroom, but I also wanted some intense professional development, since I never truly studied teaching.
On a more political note, it was and is still important to me to be working in the public school system. I’m concerned about our country’s disinvestment in public education, and I knew I wanted to be part of an organization that would not only help me further my education but would also share my belief in public education.
Now, I’m also glad I joined MTC because I get to be a student! I didn’t realize how much I would miss full-time academia. I’ve been a full-time student for essentially my entire life, and it is wild to have transitioned so quickly to full-time responsibility for other people instead. I love that I can continue being a student in an academic setting on top of my professional responsibilities and independent learning.
2. You're originally from Florida, but you've spent the last four years in New England. How has the transition to the Delta been for you?
I still can’t get into hot chips and cheese, and I miss coffee shops. But I do love living in Greenwood. I lived in a dorm all throughout college, so I LOVE having my own apartment now. I went to college in New England, but I’m also a big traveler, so I’m flexible in new settings. I feel like I can make a home wherever I go.
3. What are your students like?
My students are funny, interesting, and interested. I teach 12th grade French for the first part of the day and 9th-12th grade ACT Prep for the second part. My students are awesome. They are writers, dancers, and artists, and they are BILINGUAL! Some are even multilingual! I learn new things about my students literally every day. Like, today I learned that one of my students is starting a mentoring group AND writing a book in her spare time. My students are also high-schoolers. They come into school exhausted some days and bouncing-off-the-walls silly the next. Mostly, I feel so lucky to work with students who are open to learning and sharing parts of their lives with me.
4. How have you changed in the last 8-9 months?
I learned how to cook! I also know that I’ve become even more comfortable in the classroom and I’ve improved at developing relationships with my students. I think at the beginning of the year, I was so worried about doing everything right and performing that I forgot to be with my students. That comes much more naturally to me now. I also think that my students and my new friends make me more patient and more thoughtful. My family and friends from home have been incredible sources of support as well. I’m more grateful than ever to have so many loving people in my life.