NC Pre-K Educator Spotlight

NC Pre-K Educator Spotlight: Lystra Keever at Rosman Children's Center

Smart Start administers the NC Pre-K program in Transylvania county. The program provides high quality free pre-kindergarten education for eligible four year olds. The premise of the program is that in order for children to be successful academically they must be prepared upon entering school. This mission could never be met without the dedication and steadfast delivery of high quality care from the teachers themselves.

Educators flesh out ideas and bring life to learning for children and Lystra Keever of Rosman Children's Center is no exception. With more than thirty years of experience teaching young children, Lystra not only brings wisdom and patience to the table, but she delivers warmth and a sense of conviction to the work she does as an NC Pre-K teacher.

We caught up with her while she was feeding the class goldfish (named Pepperoni, of course) to get more information on her background and motivation:

A quick overview of my career thus far surrounding early education :

While working for Transylvania County Schools I worked with young children for thirty years. Most of my years were spent in Kindergarten and First Grade. I retired from the public-school system in July of 2018 and started to work with Western Carolina Community Action on August 1st of 2018. I worked in a stand-alone site at Brevard Elementary School in a NC Pre-K classroom with four and five-year-old. In September of 2019, Rosman Children’s Center was opened and I have the privilege of working with three, four- and five-year old’s as a NC Pre-K teacher.

My greatest accomplishments/successes in life:

I count my accomplishments when children I taught come up to me and share memories that they remember from Kindergarten. I know that from an outside perspective, this probably doesn’t sound so great but this means so much to me and it is important for teachers to acknowledge these friendships with our students. I have been fortunate to make connections with my children and now enjoy teaching many of their children. It’s always fun to tell a student I taught your Mom or Dad when they were your age.

What I find most compelling or important about working with young children:

I enjoy guiding my students along their learning journeys. I try to allow them to have a student-centered room. I strive to focus my classroom environment on student learning and be the guide at the side. I support, nurture and celebrate my student’s learning.  Children learn most naturally and effortlessly if they are allowed to follow their own preferences, abilities, and interests with the attention of a teacher who adds to and facilitates learning. I allow them to be active learners by guiding my student’s learning journey. I enjoy seeing the “aha-moments” within my children in a warm, supportive classroom.

I am motivated to get out of bed in the morning:

My favorite part about teaching is being around students and interacting with their different personalities. I still get nervous for the first day of school but as soon as my students come in, I relax. My young students are still naive about the real world and bring a sense of positivity and humor to my day. There is never a dull moment when you work with young children!

My favorite books are:

Naturally, I like children’s books. Children’s Literature was my favorite course in college. I was fortunate to have Dr. Gloria Houston as my Children’s Literature teacher. She was an educator and an author of multi-award winning, best selling books for young readers. My Great-Aunt Arizona is my favorite that she wrote. Gloria Houston’s recount of her great-aunt Arizona’s life is a story I have enjoyed sharing with my students.  It reminds us of the magical place a special teacher can hold in our hearts.  Arizona was born in a log cabin in rural Appalachia North Carolina.  She liked to read and dream about the faraway places she could visit someday.  Arizona never did make it to those faraway places.  She stayed in the Blue Ridge Mountains where she was born, and taught generations of children about words and numbers and all the places they could go one day.

I also enjoy The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. I enjoy sharing this classic book with my students as a way of illustrating that some things we attempt in life are truly difficult. If we pull together, allow others to help us, and don’t give up, then we can be successful.

Well said, Lystra. We couldn't agree with your closing words more.

For more information on NC Pre-K please view the "parents" page on our website (www.smartstarttransylvania.org/nc-pre-k). As well, we are always happy to answer any questions by phone or email.