For Kathleen "Kat" Loyd, teaching was more of a calling than a career choice.
Which is good, since many of Loyd's kindergarten and first-grade students at Monarch School have their first experience in a structured learning environment in her classroom.
"It is an accomplishment each year when my students who have had no preschool experience, no daycare experience, and lack basic communication skills can graduate at the end of the year reading, writing, and having the coping skills to manage their day with friends," she said.
Her passion for her students and her skills as a teacher are just a few of the reasons why Loyd is the Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) teacher of the year for the San Diego County Office of Education.
"When a young child walks into her class, they are greeted with a warm hello and a reassuring hug," said Leslie Del Prado, a classroom volunteer. "Kat is an outstanding teacher. She engages her students in the learning process by implementing innovative and motivational techniques while continuing to teach the basics."
Loyd has taught for eight years at Monarch School, a JCCS campus for students experiencing homelessness.
"I call it an accomplishment when my student tells me, 'I don't like school, I love it!'" Loyd said.
Loyd's teaching philosophy is inspired by her own struggles as a student.
"I couldn't pay attention; memorizing and rote learning weren't for me. I struggled and hated to read," she said. That's why she works so hard to "make learning what it should be: engaging, enjoyable, fun, motivating, encouraging, and intrinsically inclined."
Loyd previously taught in Mountain Empire Unified School District before joining the JCCS team.
Monarch School is a K-12 public school serving the needs of children impacted by homelessness. The only school of its kind in the county, Monarch is a unique public-private partnership between the San Diego County Office of Educationand the nonprofit Monarch School Project, a 501(c)3 organization; the County Office provides teachers and an accredited education, and the Project supplements this program through academic and enrichment programs including an after school program, expressive arts therapy, and counseling.