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Elementary Teacher of the Year says students are like ‘family’

by | May 26, 2023 | Latest

This year’s winner of the Wylie Way Award for Elementary Teacher of the Year said one of her favorite parts of the job is watching her students grow throughout the year.

Chloe Cotton, a kindergarten teacher at Watkins Elementary School, said her students start off adjusting to a classroom setting with other students in August, but are fully versed in full-day school and classroom etiquette when they graduate. Their graduation, she added, is a bittersweet time of the year.

“We grow together throughout the year, but the end of the year is always so hard for me because they are like my family,” Cotton said. “It makes me sad, but it’s a ‘happy’ sad. I get to keep up with them as they go into first grade and I get to see them go through that,” Cotton said. 

Cotton, a four-year teaching veteran in Wylie ISD with eight years’ of teaching experience, said an important part of her role early in the year is modeling behaviors for her students.

“We have to stop and think, ‘they haven’t been in this setting,’” Cotton said. “Once we establish that, they know how the classroom is run and they still do everything the same way I told them the first day of school. Once you tell them how to do these things, it allows more time to focus on teaching.”

Additionally, Cotton has said that she has enjoyed learning about the Wylie Way, namely from some teachers with more experience in the district. 

“It’s truly something special,” Cotton said. “It’s such a special district that focuses on kids and what makes them unique; that’s what we get to do every single day as kindergarten teachers.”

She continued that she serves on committees at Watkins Elementary and at the district level that help develop the lesson plans for the Wylie Way throughout the year. Winning the Wylie Way Award for the top elementary school teacher was a surreal experience, said Cotton, especially since she beat out some of the individuals she cites as mentors.

“I couldn’t believe I was standing there next to them,” Cotton said. “There’s teachers that I have looked up to while I’ve worked in Wylie. I still don’t really believe it.”

When asked what characteristic of the Wylie Way she most embodies, Cotton said compassion. 

“I always want to make sure everyone is taken care of, and once they are taken care of, they can reach their full potential,” Cotton said. “My goal is to help all my students reach their full potential and I’ll be their biggest cheerleader every step of the way.”

For the full story, see the May 24 issue of The Wylie News.

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