Ayrial Lawhon, a first grade teacher, was named Teacher of the Year for Lakehoma Elementary. Lawhon has been with Mustang Public Schools and a teacher for six years. This is her second year at Lakehoma.
Lawhon knew when she was in elementary school that she would be a teacher. Every day when she arrived home, her toys and little sister were her pupils as she taught her own classes.
“My passion for teaching continued after I had so many wonderful teachers who made such a significant difference in my life,” she said. “My teachers were some of my biggest fans and they never let me give up. I, in return, wanted to be that teacher for other children. I hope to be the teacher that they remember who continuously encouraged them to never give up on their goals.”
For Lawhon, teaching elementary, particularly first grade, was the obvious choice.
“I love the developmental stage they’re in,” she said. “First grade students still give you lots of hugs and make you notes. They get so excited to learn and have such creative minds.”
The students arrive in her classroom in August at all different skill levels. There are some who struggle to recognize letters. By the end of the year, they are stringing together words. An “Ah-ha!” moment for her students is her favorite part of teaching.
Lawhon remembers one student who loved to write, but lacked confidence.
“That year, I continuously worked with him and pushed him by having him write books and poems,” she said. “He struggled a lot at first and kept trying to give up because he didn’t think his books would be any good. At the end of the year he was creating books continuously and sharing them with his class."
He still sends her books he has written through the district’s inter-office school mail.
“I chose to become a teacher to make a difference in students lives,” she said. “I hope to encourage them no matter what they want to be some day whether it’s a student who is great at art and wants to be an artist one day, a football player, or a doctor. I hope to be the person that someone needs a hug from, a smile, or told that I love them. I want to be one of their biggest cheerleaders and help them to accomplish their goals whatever they may be.”