YHS student wins second place in national Educators Rising competition in Washington DC

YHS student wins second place in national Educators Rising competition in Washington DC
YHS student wins second place in national Educators Rising competition in Washington DC

By Dylan Reubenking / [email protected]

Taliah Boyd, a 12th grader at Yelm High School, made the most of her trip to Washington, DC for the 2024 national Educators Rising Conference from June 28 to July 1. Boyd placed second nationally in the interviewing category at the conference.

Boyd traveled with fellow YHS students Glennah Wofford, Bailie Fowler and Kiana Neir, and Educators Rising teacher Hillary Hull. Wofford and Fowler competed in the children’s literature category, while Neir competed in the Educators Rising speech competition.

Boyd’s mock interview was for a paraprofessional position and she was asked to submit a resume and cover letter and answer interview questions from two interviewers.

“When I came in I was nervous, but most of all I was excited because I had trained and worked really hard. They were so nice and had big smiles on their faces, which made it very calming,” she said.

Boyd, who dreams of becoming a special education teacher, was asked how she designs her classroom, handles diversity, builds relationships with students and teachers, and how she has dealt with a challenge or difficulty in her life. She was judged on how she answered the questions, down to eye contact and the depth of the answers, as well as the questions she asked interviewers.

In her cover letter, she explained what she had to offer as a person, highlighting her resilience, adaptability, work ethic and experience working with children on the Educators Rising course at YHS.

She had to wait nearly 48 hours to find out how she placed in the competition. During that time, she networked with and learned from educators at the conference and toured the nation’s capital. Boyd was excited to see how she did.

“I honestly didn’t expect much because it was my first time participating and I felt like I did my best,” she said. “When I came out of the interview, I was really happy. I smiled because I thought it went well. I spoke from the bottom of my heart about how much I love special education and a little bit about my life.”

Boyd was shocked when she saw her name among the 10 semifinalists. She was even more shocked when she saw her name in second place. She took home a certificate and a medal.

“The girls all worked so hard and everyone was so nice there. We worked hard and Mrs. Hull was definitely a big help,” Boyd said. “It was so important for me to get the chance to go to Nationals and representing Yelm was so incredible. Being successful there helps me realize that what I’m doing has a purpose. Taking this class and doing these interviews was worth it and will help me prepare for future interviews.”

The four students connected with over 4,000 students from across the country, all of whom have a passion for education. They participated in a series of breakout sessions that helped them further develop their interest in teaching. The students also connected with other students across Washington State, including from the Renton School District and Central Washington University.

Boyd said students heard different opinions about the teaching profession and ways of learning during the conference, as well as ways to represent themselves and lead a classroom.

“We listened to the country’s Teacher of the Year talk about her experiences as a teacher and what she did to make all of her students feel welcome,” she said. “I learned a lot about how to be the best teacher you can be, but also how to be a really good human being and make everyone around you feel safe and welcome.”

The team also competed in a lip-sync battle and won the title of “most energetic team.” The students performed “Get’cha Head in the Game” from “High School Musical” and won a trophy for their choreography.

“The lip sync battle was absolutely amazing. We just did our best. We had a whole dance choreographed to it and when they announced the awards, they gave us our trophy and we were so excited,” Boyd said. “Everyone kept stopping us and saying, ‘You guys were so good. You were amazing. It was so much fun to watch.’ It was definitely a really fun team building moment.”

Other highlights of the tour included exploring Washington DC by tour bus. Students saw the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol, the White House, Georgetown University, and museums, among other places.