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Kailey Rea ’23: ‘ I Hope to Inspire a Love of Learning in My Students and Give Them a Place to Be Themselves’

Kailey Rea

Before she even enrolled in the NC State College of Education,  Kailey Rea ’23 felt at home there. She knew she would have a supportive and meaningful experience in the college and knew it was the place where she should become an educator. 

Now, as she plans to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in mathematics education, she plans to use everything she learned in the College of Education to create a classroom where all of her students can explore the wonders of STEM education.

Learn more about Kailey Rea ’23:

Hometown: Pine Level, North Carolina

Major/Area of Study: Mathematics Education

Activities (Research or Extracurricular): Teaching Fellows, SAY Village, Club Clogging (president)

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

Before I was even an official student at NC State, and when I became an official student, I was met with the most welcoming atmosphere and people in the College of Education. I remember feeling very shy at one event and one staff member telling me that I was welcome there and that this was my family. I have been met with this same attitude these past four years at NC State, in the College of Education and in Students Advocating for Youth Village by staff and students alike. I knew I would get the most meaningful education at NC State, as well as have countless opportunities to pursue my passions. The personalized environment and the close bonds I have made in my education classes have only assured me that I chose the right place to pursue my dreams.

Why did you choose your area of study?

For four years now, I have wanted to be a teacher and as every year has passed, I have only become aware of more reasons why I want to pursue this profession. I am majoring in mathematics education with a concentration in middle grades, and I am also pursuing a double licensure in science education for middle grades. Being able to understand the “why” of different math and science topics is very interesting to me and makes learning that much more meaningful. I have always believed that being a teacher is a wonderful profession, mainly because of the positive impacts my teachers have had on me and the fact I learned so much in school. It is my goal to be that wonderful teacher and inspire a love of learning in my students. It would be an honor to know a student chose to go into a STEM or STEM education career with the help of my influence. It is also a goal of mine that my students will be able to see themselves in their education. Instead of feeling safe at school, too many students are treated inequitably and held to unfair standards. I hope to help change this in my classroom and future school because all students deserve to be held to high standards and deserve a safe space to learn.

What’s your next step? What do you have planned after graduation?

I will be working at Dillard Drive Magnet Middle School as a 6th grade science teacher. I am beyond excited.

How has the College of Education prepared you for that next step?

The College of Education has prepared me in many ways, one being that they provided me with so many resources and ideas to take into my classroom. I have been able to show my creativity through my assignments and projects and I hope to be able to incorporate what I’ve learned through these experiences into my own classroom. Being in SAY Village has opened my eyes to the importance of youth advocacy and given me opportunities to communicate with young people in ways that build their confidence. Skills I have learned through being in SAY Village will follow me throughout my career in education. In addition, I have learned to advocate for myself and ask for help with the support of my instructors. This is something that will be of utmost importance as a beginning teacher and encouraging that in my students.

What do you eventually hope to accomplish in your field?

My main goal is making my students feel the way my teachers made me feel, which was seen and valued. One vivid memory I have from 6th grade science is a poster my teacher had that said, “In my classroom, there are …” and listed different professions. At that time, I wanted to be a meteorologist, and I saw that profession listed. From that point, I felt welcomed in that classroom. I hope to create this same environment in my own 6th grade classroom.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the College of Education?

It’s hard to pinpoint just one favorite memory, but one of my favorite experiences is the SAY Village spring break trip to Savannah, Georgia, where I attended the National Youth at Risk Conference. It was there that I was able to hear from professionals in the field alongside others who were passionate about the same things as me. I also got to hang out with other students in SAY Village and have the best cup of ice cream I’ve ever had (sorry Howling Cow). My instructors have also been a highlight of my time at NC State and I admire them so much. One-on-one time in office hours, sending math jokes through email and talking about issues in education have been experiences I have treasured and will never forget.

Tell us about an experience you had with the College of Education that had the biggest impact on you or your career.

The relationships I’ve built with my instructors, advisors and peers have affected me in so many positive ways. I have met the most genuine and kind people at NC State and I have been lucky to have gotten to know them better and be around to see growth in all of us.

Why did you choose education?

I chose education because I realize the impact I can have as an educator and the impact my students can have on me. I hope to inspire a love of learning in my students and give them a place to be themselves. The world was not built for certain kinds of people, so I hope my classroom can become a place where students are seen and validated. I have also learned so much from the young people I have interacted with. I see mathematics, science, friendship, fairness and many other things in a totally different light thanks to them. I am excited to experience that every single day.