Shannon Hayes works in Scott Elementary School’s special education department and is the 2005-2006 Royse City Independent School District’s teacher of the year.

Shannon Hayes loves her job. The young, bubbly and energetic 34-year-old works with children with disabilities as a teacher at Scott Elementary School in Royse City, the town she grew up in and that she also calls home.

“I love what I do. I never know what my day will be like. I love it when the light bulb goes off when the student finally gets it and when you see that they get it,” Hayes said.

She is Scott Elementary School’s special education content mastery leader and has worked at Scott for the last two years. She loves having a smaller amount of students, which is typically 25 per class, to work with and the more hands-on teaching approach her job entails.

“I was teaching physical education and health at the Fulton Academy’s Montessori school. I love the Montessori teaching philosophy, which involves a more hands-on, individualized approach to teaching. When I came to public schools special education was the closest thing I could do to individually teach students. I have a lot more freedom,” Hayes said.

Her coworkers have noticed the dedication, passion and commitment that she infuses into her job and nominated her to be Scott’s teacher of the year. She not only won that title but she is the Royse City Independent School District’s teacher of the year for the 2005-2006 school year.

The humble Hayes is unsure how she got the award but is happy nonetheless that she received such an honor.

“I get along with everybody. Any teacher that is having a problem in the classroom I try to help. I will tell them what I have learned in special education,” Hayes said.

Next school year she will continue in content mastery and will also be a diagnostician intern, where she will test students who qualify for special education to determine if they belong in the program.

Her goal for the upcoming school year is to integrate more special education students into general education classrooms, she said.

“This last year we had seven to eight kids move into the general education classes. Some of the teachers were a little scared at first because they are unfamiliar with special education students, but this is good for the campus and most of these kids are in a transition class, which means they are too smart for a life skills class but too low for a general education class. It was successful and we had parents who were very happy about the move,” Hayes said.

Another goal Hayes hopes to achieve is to finish her masters degree in special education this year, which she is working on at Grand Canyon University. She is teaching along side some teachers who taught her about reading, writing and arithmetic, among other things, when she attended Royse City schools.

“Jan Rhea, who is our English as a Second Language teacher here at Scott was my reading teacher in fourth and fifth grade. She was my favorite teacher and has such compassion and loves what she does.

“You can tell she loves her job. Gary Elliott, who teaches English at Royse City Middle School was one of my teachers. Mark Dodson, who is the associate superintendent of administrative services and human resources is my former teacher,” Hayes said.

Besides having three elementary schools with a fourth one slated to be built in Fate, Hayes has seen her hometown change since she graduate from Royse City High School in 1990, when she was known as Shannon Whitney. She moved back to Royse City three years ago and lived in Chandler in East Texas before that. She remembers that most teens fled the small town of Royse City to cruise down Galway Street or head to the K-Mart parking lot to talk to other teens rather than stay in Royse City in the late 1980s, Hayes said.

“Well there are two flashing lights in downtown now. It’s just not the same.Browning was closed and we went to high school in the current middle school building. Everyone knew everybody then.”

When she’s not busy helping other people’s children understand the world around them Hayes can be found with her son, Hayden, 7, and her husband.

The Hayeses attend the First United Methodist Church of Royse City, where Hayes enjoys seeing familiar faces from work and those she has known from her childhood.

She also likes reading but not the stuffy, somewhat boring factual books. She instead, like some of her students, enjoys unwinding by curling up with a fictional tale, such as those woven by J. K. Rowling in her Harry Potter books.

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