Kiana Darby ’17 is proof that you can make a difference in a child’s life long before you get your own classroom.
Over the past few years at University of Lynchburg, Kiana has pursued many opportunities to work one-on-one with children and help them grasp addition, subtraction, and other mathematical concepts. When she graduates this spring and begins her teaching career, she will have significant experience behind her.
“I want to be able to change a child’s life,” she said.
Two years ago, math instructor A.J. Eccles recognized Kiana’s love for math and suggested a way for Kiana to develop the passion and gain experience by working in her field of study. She began tutoring kids ages 6-17 in math at Daniel Hill’s Recreation Center’s after school program. After three summers there, she was very familiar with the kids’ academic levels and she wanted to have an impact beyond helping them with completing daily homework or preparing for a test. “I wanted to do something to help them excel,” Kianna said.
So last fall, Kiana worked on a project to increase the likelihood that the children in the after school program would continue having excellent instruction. She helped Eccles create a book that describes all the innovative strategies that teachers and tutors can use to help students succeed in the mathematics.
Kianna also conducted an assessment of two students elementary-age students to identify their strengths and weakness in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and she documented how the results of these assessments can help mentors determine which activities will work best for children. Deanna Cash, Assistant Professor of Education, supported and gave assistance as her supervisor for the position.
Apart from her internship, Kianna has had a work-study job at Heritage Elementary where she has been able to practice small group instruction or pull students individually to work with them. Thanks to Aaron Smith ’05, ’07 MEd, who formerly coordinated student employment, she got a summer position with Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, where she eventually conducted a math literacy workshop. In the spring of 2017, she began her student teaching experiences to prepare her for teacher certification.
Kiana believes math should not be intimidating, so she is always trying to discover effective teaching styles as well as students’ learning styles. This has made the experience as educational for her as it has been for the children. “They’re not the only ones learning,” Kiana said.
Kiana expressed gratitude for the people who not only helped her to graduate but made it easier for her to see the potential she has to create change. Thanks to the experiences she’s had outside the classroom, she is equipped with the skills needed to teach in the real world. “University of Lynchburg has really opened up a lot of doors,” she said.