By Kari Ifland, Beauregard Parish School Board
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
This Aristotle quote inspires Singer English teacher Alayna Jones to teach beyond the curriculum.
“I teach because I want to help students understand life through literature,” she explained. “I love the moment when students make the connection from the story to their own lives.”
Literature speaks to each person individually, making a connection through storytelling. It is this association that makes an impact on a person’s life. Jones strives to provide a variety of avenues for her students to make those important discoveries.
“My favorite novel to teach is Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and I am always amazed how relevant the story of her life is to young people today,” she said. “We always follow up the reading with a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Houston where the students have a tangible experience connecting them more closely to the story. It is very moving every year.”
Jones gives her students opportunities to make connections to the material by projects like the poetry tree – a visual creation in her classroom of her students’ original works. She also encourages group discussion about the books they are reading, allowing students to teach each other by sharing their own in- sights into the novels.
By providing a variety of ways to engage her students in the leaning process, she creates avenues by which her students can connect in ways that are meaningful to them.
“I love when my students relate to parts of the novels we read and get to experience things through books that they may never have been exposed to otherwise,” she said.
The most important need in her classroom for parents to remember that teachers are human, too. She appreciates parents who are engaged in their child’s education, but needs them to realize that teachers are not always on call. She acknowledges that students have lives outside the classroom and believes that teachers deserve to have boundaries for personal time and space as well.
Jones is the 2020-2021 Singer High School Teacher of the Year.
She has been teaching at SHS for three years where she currently teaches 8th-12th grade English. She has taught in Beauregard Parish schools for a total of twelve years, teaching English and Social Studies at South Beauregard Upper Elementary, middle school English at Merryville High School, and Spanish at Singer High School previously.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology at Louisiana State University and obtained her Louisiana teaching certificate through the McNeese State University Alternate Teacher Certification Program. She is NMSI and AP English certified.
She is the Beauregard Students Write Coordinator, the Senior Beta club sponsor, and the Junior Class Sponsor at the school.
Her advice to new teachers is to build relationships with students, seeing them as human beings. She believes that it is important to give students grace while simultaneously holding them responsible.
Her favorite thing about teaching is helping students make the connection from the novels and short stories they are reading to their real lives because it gives them new ways to understand their experiences while opening them up to new experiences that make their lives richer.
“I want to be an adult in my students’ lives who sees them for who they are and encourages them to foster their individual talents so they can grow up and give back to their community,” she concluded. “I think literature is an excellent avenue to foster that growth.”