Ciara Hornsby named Chambers Academy Secondary Teacher of the Year

Published 10:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

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In her first year at Chambers Academy, Ciara Hornsby was named Secondary Teacher of the Year. When they announced that she had won, Hornsby was overwhelmed by the excitement of the students.

“All the kids were yelling and screaming,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m very thankful.”

Hornsby, from Valley, graduated from LaGrange College in 2018.

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She has enjoyed getting to know her students on the good days as well as the bad. Working at Chambers Academy has never felt like work to her, and each day brings a fresh opportunity to relate to her students.

Since she started, Hornsby has felt a strong family atmosphere at the school.

“I love Chambers Academy because it is home,” she said. “Just within the first year, I feel like I’ve made a family here.”

Hornsby has added to the hospitality of the school. This year, she founded the Chambers Academy Student Ambassadors. The student ambassadors represent the school during open houses or school tours. They volunteer during community events like the LaFayette Food Truck Festival. They will be hosting this year’s graduation as well.

She also founded the dance club and has served as the head of the math club this year.

“I’m proud of bringing new opportunities to the school for the kids,” Hornsby said.

Hornsby’s advice for aspiring teachers is to build solid relationships with students.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” Hornsby said.

Though she tends to be a planner, Hornsby has learned to be open to last-minute changes to her lessons if a method isn’t working.

“If you teach one way, and only half the class gets it, but the other half doesn’t, you don’t move on,” she said. “You go and teach the same thing again in a different way. Try a new method.”

Hornsby has made relationships a priority in her classroom, which makes it easier to keep students open to learning. She has modeled herself after the teacher that made her fall in love with math in high school.

“I love being the teacher that they can come to on their bad days, not only just their good days,” Hornsby said. “I like to form strong relationships with the kids.”

She said it can be tricky to find a balance between traditional teaching methods and the newest technology. One of the hardest parts of her job is that she is always looking outside of the box for ways to keep students engaged.

“You’re always on your toes, trying to find new ways and new creative things to teach them so that they can be excited about math,” Hornsby said.

Integrating technology into the classroom has been one of Hornsby’s challenges. She has learned to toe the line between utilizing the right technology and filtering out the types that aren’t helpful.

Hornsby also said that job shadowing or being a substitute teacher can help people get their feet wet. Ultimately, it’s a job that you either love or you don’t.

“It’s something where when you know, you know,” Hornsby said.