upike alumnus aileah walters teachs students in her class room

Walters advances teaching skills, education at UPIKE

“My main motive as a teacher is to instill in my students the idea that they have someone who cares for and loves them—apart from what I teach them,” says Aileah Walters, about her kindergarten students at Pikeville Elementary School.  Not surprisingly, that goal grew out of Walters’ own experience at UPIKE.

“College in general can be scary and intimidating,” says Walters, a native of Pikeville, “but I felt UPIKE was a new home and the professors and students were like a new family.”  One of her professors in UPIKE’s Patton College of Education, Theresa Dawahare, was “like my mom,” Walters remembers. “Any issues that we had we could go to her, or any of my professors. They knew we were nervous, and they made us feel like we were a part of this professional career from the very beginning. They approached us as educators from day one. It made us feel comfortable and confident. As a result, my classmates have continued to stay close.”

Walters’ training at UPIKE also instilled in her the importance of classroom management. She spends hours analyzing data to chart student growth and achievement. Using her experience from UPIKE helps her modify and develop lesson plans designed especially for her students’ needs.  

“I have taken all of these strategies from UPIKE: organizing, managing and analyzing information in my classroom,” she says. “For a weekly assessment, I break down all the data from their individual scores and compare it to their past scores. I can see, for example, a certain student is jumping ahead and may benefit from some more challenging material, whereas another student has hit a plateau.”

Walters is slated to once again graduate from UPIKE, this time with her Teacher Leader Master’s degree in May 2019. She also tutors independently in the late afternoons and evenings.  

She and her husband, a student at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry, find community life in Pikeville “amazing.” As a multi-sport athlete in high school and now a golfer with her husband, Walters brings the community into her classroom. 

“We have first responders come to our school all the time, along with people in other professions,” she says. “The community supports us in so many ways. There are so many positives about living and working here in Pikeville.”