LaFayette Lanier teacher living her dream

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 2021

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Candace Yarbrough has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. She now lives her dream teaching third grade at Lafayette Lanier Elementary.

“When I was a little girl, I had my basement in my parents’ house set up like a classroom,” she said. “And during the summers, I would go spend time with my aunt who was a teacher in Birmingham. She would always send me back with stuff she was moving out of her classroom. One whole wall in the basement had an alphabet, numbers, and a chalkboard.”

In college, Yarbrough worked at CharterBank, which is now SouthState Bank.

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“Prior to that, I worked in a daycare,” she said. “So, I’ve always been around children. When I was in college, I thought, ‘Well, maybe I don’t want to be a teacher. Maybe I want to work in the business world, and that was fun, too. But then, I was like, ‘You know, I really enjoy working with kids.’ And so I just decided to become a teacher.”

Following her passion may have made her good at her job. Yarbrough found out she was her school’s teacher of the year when Principal Rusty Newton told her in the lunchroom.

“I was really surprised because I’ve always taken my name off the ballot because it’s always like, ‘Congratulations, and here’s extra paperwork for you to fill out,’” she joked. “I didn’t even know it was on there this time because of the new way that they were doing it. I had a sweet little girl in my class that wrote me a recommendation letter that was so precious.”

This is Yarbrough’s twelfth year teaching third grade and thirteenth year teaching total. She taught one year of fifth grade at Fairfax Elementary before moving into her current role at Lafayette Lanier Elementary.

Yarbrough’s favorite thing about her job is that every day is different.

“Every day brings new challenges, and so I do enjoy that part of it,” she said.

If anything makes her teaching style special, Yarbrough guessed that it’s her fun, energetic style of teaching and the fact that she can relate to her students.

“I just enjoy being around kids and teaching in general,” she said.

She said her students know her for pushing them to achieve their personal best.

“I have high expectations for all of them,” she said. “Even though they’ll say, ‘Well, this is really hard,’ I’m like, ‘But I know you can do it.’

Yarbrough’s students set and keep track of their goals by writing in goal books.

Yarbrough said her favorite subject to teach is probably language arts. She enjoys watching her students develop reading strategies. She said this is the first year she’s had to teach math, which she’s learned to enjoy even though it wasn’t her strongest subject in school.