Educator Spotlight: Meet Kristen Lyon
Fresh perspective enlivens Spanish teacher in Rhode Island
This story is part of a series that celebrates Teacher Appreciation Month. Each day, we will introduce to you an outstanding educator within the Flipgrid community. Stories by Angela Tewalt.
Kristen Lyon is a Spanish teacher who used to be a guidance counselor, and is there anything else that can provide greater empathy in the classroom than that?
But she also has cutouts of Keith Urban’s face, pinatas hung from the ceiling and will likely break out into Colombian song or dance during class, so she’s also a lot of fun atop a warm heart.
After 30 years of teaching, Ms. Lyon is happier than ever, and she wants her students to be, too.
“I feel like I have more fun now than I ever did, because I see life differently than I used to in my 20s or 30s,” says Kristen, who teaches at Middletown High School in Rhode Island. “I just have a much different perspective. I want to have fun at what I’m doing, and I want my kids to have fun. Why wouldn’t you want to go to work and have fun?”
We’ll dance to that.
Transition into the Classroom
Kristen never set out to teach Spanish – or become a counselor. She actually wanted to be a journalist, but she rides the surprises in life in the same way she chooses music over lectures – with complete abandon.
“I made a risky move – I really haven’t met anyone who goes into the classroom after being in the counselor’s office – but the experience of counseling helped me to understand that relationships are more important than the content, so I’m as positive and engaged as I can be for my students. It’s been fabulous.”
KRISTEN AND HER COLLEAGUE LUIS OLIVEIRA VISITED THE FLIPGRID OFFICE IN MINNESOTA.
Kristen says the difference between being a teacher and being a counselor is the environment in which you engage – in a classroom, both the teacher and the students can imagine and shape their world to be whatever they want it to be, whereas, in a counselor’s office, you are dealing with and healing in an environment that is already set in place.
“I had wonderful, positive moments in guidance, and I really do believe that I’m a much better and more understanding teacher because of it,” Kristen says. “Now, I’m a new person. I feel like I’m learning again.”
THE FLIPGRID TEAM VISITED MIDDLETOWN HIGH SCHOOL.
Spanish Refresh – and so Much More
Kristen actually began her career as a Spanish teacher before she went into counseling. But, when she returned to the classroom 15 years later, she had lost a lot of the language and nuance. She says music helped the transition.
“Oh, I was petrified,” Kristen recalls of teaching Spanish again. “So I just started to listen to a lot of music and paying attention to the news so I could talk about current events with the kids. But it was great, because I tell the kids, I was just like them, learning! And the more you practice, the more you have the desire to learn. I think I set a good example for them.”
KRISTEN GOT TO MEET KEITH URBAN AT A CONCERT. SHE REALLY IS A SUPERFAN! PHOTOS COURTESY OF KRISTEN LYON.
Her students appreciate the enthusiasm. It’s easy to gravitate toward teachers like Kristen – she smiles a lot, she always speaks positively, and the way she embraces culture and experiences really resonates with them.
“Music grabs some kids who otherwise are unengaged – you find out a lot about kids just through what their likes and dislikes are – or we’ll talk about current events using our Spanish vocab,” Kristen says. “The kids realize they’re learning Spanish along the way! I just want us all to be engaged in the world so we can be better citizens at home. I want my kids to open their eyes and realize that there is this huge world around them that they can absolutely participate in.”
KRISTEN AND HER COLLEAGUE AT MIDDLETOWN LUIS OLIVEIRA.
The way she does. Kristen travels, hugs the world and her family tight and mightily believes in herself to do good for others. She’s a lot of joy.
“I’m always trying to send the kids the message that the most important thing for me and for them is to respect one another and be good people.”