LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- The most recent recipient of the WHAS-TV Excel Award is Deborah Hayen, a first grade teacher at the Zachary Taylor Elementary School.
Hayen is a gate keeper for public education. She teaches in the classroom where everything starts, setting the foundation for years ahead.
She said there is no place like a first grade classroom. The little faces express anticipation and an eager desire for learning. Everyday, Hayen encounters the inquisitive minds of six year olds.
It is Hayen’s role to ensure her first graders get what they need to advance in school. She said she feels daily pressure to help them achieve at grade level and beyond.
Hayen received the Excel Golden Apple in a ceremony at the school on November 20, she also was presented with a $1,000 classroom grant from the Excel sponsor, LG&E /KU.
Her colleagues said Hayen is an outstanding teacher because she won't give up on any student. While first grade is a time of innocence, there is also a new reality.
In fact, many parents are surprised by the rigor of the curriculum for first graders. The young students face challenges that might be a year advanced from first graders of 20 years ago.
Hayen said that parents cannot believe where these kids need to be, at such a young age. The progress she expects is necessary to compete, she said. Hayen is there to help her students keep pace in a competitive world.
She wants them to learn, but also enjoy learning. For this Excel teacher, it's a balance to keep her students happy and also ready to Excel in the testing process.