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West Valley City Journal

Wright Elementary teacher receives top state honors

Sep 08, 2022 01:03PM ● By Liz Craker

Gearld Wright Elementary first-grade teacher Kimi Bayles is among 10 educators in Utah to receive this year’s UEA/dōTERRA Excellence in Teaching Award.

Bayles has been teaching first grade for 16 years. “I just love the first graders’ excitement that they love to learn and that they love to be at school. I love to feed that love,” Bayles said. 

“If you teach the right way, they just breathe and live it with you. If you can just use their wonderful little brains, it's just magic!” she said. 

Bayles said she was shocked to find out she won the award. “It took time to sink in," she said. “I do what I do because I love it, so it was nice to get an award.” 

Bayles was selected out of hundreds of nominations and now has the opportunity to be part of the committee to help choose next year's winners. “I am very excited about that. I think it will be a very cool experience,” she said. 

dōTERRA gave each winner $1,500 to use as they chose. Bayles and her family used the money to take their son to Cooperstown, New York to compete in a baseball tournament. “We were in New York for 10 days. It was a very cool experience,” Bayles said. 

Bayles shared that when she was going to school she worked at Meier & Frank department store. 

“While waiting for customers I would write ways I wanted to develop my classroom. That passion has grown every year,” she said. “I just wanted to be in the classroom. That’s all I thought about.” 

She added that her college professor even said she was ready to be in the classroom before she graduated. Bayles studied to teach kindergarten through third grade.

“I originally thought I would teach kindergarten but after getting to spend the whole day with first-graders, learning everything I could about them, I was hooked,” she said. 

 A firm believer in connecting with students, Bayles explained that connection correlates with success in the classroom, which makes students want to be at school and want to learn. 

“I have gotten wedding invitations from and graduation announcements from former students. It means a lot that they are remembering me 10 and 15 years later. Every spring I can’t wait to get the graduation announcements from former student,” Bayles said. 

Bayles shares her advice for new, incoming teachers. “Be prepared to repeat yourself for the rest of your life and be OK with that. Make sure that those kids, every one of them, feel loved, no matter what,” she said. 

Bayles said her husband and family are incredibly supportive of her job, and her husband was happy to see her be rewarded for her devotion. “Not every teacher gets a reward, and I wish every teacher could get one. I am incredibly grateful,” Bayles said. 

Bayles said her co-teacher Julie Bressler, who nominated her for the award, complements her teaching style. “I wouldn’t be the teacher I am without her. She is the other half of my brain,” Bayles said. “We are like the best half of ourselves together.” λ