Kayla Reyes has wanted to be a teacher since the second grade.
But when she arrived at Northern Arizona University and joined the Arizona Teachers Academy, the California senior realized she specifically wanted to teach in the Grand Canyon State.
As a Special and Elementary Education major, Kayla has thrived as an active educator in diverse settings. She has provided behavioral support at Flagstaff Unified School District high schools, acted as a resource for small groups in math and reading for early elementary grades, and worked with nonverbal students.
“NAU exceeded what I thought I would get out of it,” she said. “I never thought I’d get this many hours in the classroom. Those are experiences you can’t get anywhere else.”
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Kayla even gave a speech in front of the Arizona Board of Regents. “NAU helped me be ready for things like that,” she said.
She credits her cohort supervisor, Assistant Clinical Professor Michelle Novelli, for being a thoughtful mentor.
“She gets to know her students and where they want to go with their degree,” Kayla said. “She’s really intentional in where she places students and tailors the program to meet their needs. The College of Education is so lucky to have the professors they do. They know what’s going on with us personally and help us through it. If something’s going wrong, they help us brainstorm and succeed and take the next step.”
The Teachers Academy is a state program that provides scholarships to encourage students to gain their education degree, leading to certification to begin their career in Arizona. The Orange County native is back in California doing her student teaching this spring, but she expects to be back here after graduation to begin a bright future in primary special education. “When I saw the Teachers Academy was available for out-of-state students,” Kayla said, “I jumped at the opportunity. Arizona was the place for me; it is my new home.”
Like Kayla, Teachers Academy student Hannah Gish is pursuing her aspiration to make a difference as an educator. She’s taking on challenges in real classrooms and seeing her coursework pay off in a big way.
“The feeling is that NAU teachers are there to work and do an awesome job, to do personal learning and also to help them. NAU students have a high expectation to live up to.”