Kyler answers call to early childhood


Editor's note:This is the first in a series of profiles of the six finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.

Editor's note:This is the first in a series of profiles of the six finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.


Working in an early childhood environment requires a great deal of patience, particularly in special education, where a teacher also must be able to tailor lessons to fit specific needs.

And for Karen Kyler, special education teacher at Garfield Early Childhood Center, teaching is the most gratifying thing she has done, aside from raising her own daughters.

"You have to be called to an early childhood position, you really do," Kyler said, as two of her students vied for her attention. "But I love this age, and I love their creativity."

Kyler is one of the finalists for this year's Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Program.

"I look at all the other teachers in this building and everybody is so good. We all get ideas from each other, and that's the best thing about being in this building, is that we are all together, but I think there's lots of other people who are just as good or better than me. I'm just the veteran, I think. I'm the old codger on the block," she said, laughing.

Kyler has been teaching children in one respect or another for the past 29 years.

"I've been doing early childhood, starting in my home, as a private day care when my children were small, and then I taught for five years at a private school, and I did kindergarten and preschool, and then I came to the district," she said.

After receiving her master's degree in special education, Kyler began working for Garden City USD 457 in 2001.

"When I started, I was put into a brand new classroom over at Georgia Matthews, and I mean, I just totally fell in love with what I did," she said.

She has been teaching at Garfield for the past four years and said that having all of the early childhood students and teachers in one building has been helpful.

"I absolutely love it because we're all together and our in-services directly relate to us," Kyler said. "I loved being in the elementary buildings, too, but I had no one to team with, no one to draw on. Sometimes you have a behavior or you have a severe child you don't know what to do with. Well, here we can team together and say, 'What would you do? Could you help me think outside the box?' Because we all reach those points where we're stuck."

In the classroom, it's easy to see how Kyler cares for her students.

"I get so close to my children because I have them for two, sometimes three years, so you get pretty attached," she said. "The kids are all very, very special to me. I just love them."

She said she receives the most satisfaction when a student "gets it."

"The thing I like about any level of teaching is seeing advancement," Kyler said. "When I see them advance, no matter what level it is — for one of my children, it might be being able to eat, for another child it's being able to feed themselves, for another child it might be walking. It's so exciting."

The other five finalists for this year's award are RoseMary Erives, Buffalo Jones Elementary School; Alexander Koning, Kenneth Henderson Middle School; Summer Miller, Garden City High School, Kenneth Henderson Middle School and Horace Good Middle School; Tamillia Moore, Edith Scheuerman Elementary School; and Tammy Ueke, Victor Ornelas Elementary School.

The award is given annually to top educators in Finney County. The CARE (Community Awareness and Recognition in Education) Task Force of the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce revealed the 2013 finalists in October.

The top three finalists will be announced during a banquet Nov. 21 at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave., and will receive an engraved crystal apple, $1,000 cash award and other prizes. The other three finalists will receive a cash award of $250.

Reservations for the banquet are required by 5 p.m. Friday. Cost is $25 per person, payable in advance to the Chamber of Commerce, 1511 E. Fulton Terrace. For more information, call Myca Bunch at the Chamber at 276-3264, or email

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