Meet Teacher of the Year finalist Kayleigh Overman-Fassel

Kayleigh Overman-Fassel teaches English 1 for emergent bilinguals at Emmett J. Conrad High School. After receiving her bachelor of arts from Trinity University, she realized her dream of working with language learners as a writing consultant for Lone Star College-Montgomery, first as a substitute English 1301 instructor and then as an intermediate developmental English instructor. 

She has also worked as an instructional coach, curriculum writer, test developer, and, in her favorite role, an English I teacher. Her passion for working with emergent bilinguals led her to Conrad High School.

In addition to her classroom duties, she has served as the emergent bilingual/newcomer mentor, a mentor teacher, and a facilitator for professional development to help other teachers improve their proficiency in working with Dallas ISD’s emergent bilingual population.

What is some advice you wish you had received when you were starting out as a teacher?  

I wish someone had emphasized to me that what makes a successful teacher is the ability to be flexible and apply your unique skill sets to the classroom. 

What is your best tip for classroom management?  

My best classroom management tip is always work to build strong relationships with your students. This alone heads off so many classroom management issues. 

How do you build strong connections with students?  

I build strong connections with my students by helping them celebrate their cultures, and by creating an atmosphere of warmth, positivity, and humor. 

What are your hopes for your students in the future?  

I hope all my students come to see themselves as talented, capable, and curious. Whatever road they take in life, if they can embrace an openhearted love of learning, they will be successful. 

If you were not a teacher, what would you be doing instead?  

I can’t imagine—this has been my dream for so long. The classroom is where I’m happiest. 

What do you consider to be your superpower as a teacher? 

My teaching superpower is patience. Without patience, it’s impossible to form connections, take the time to get to know your students, or invest time in all the intangibles that make a positive, happy classroom environment.

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