In each of the three years, that Daphanie Cotton has taught at Arp Junior High School, she has taken on an additional responsibility.
This school year, she began teaching kids with dyslexia.
Interestingly enough, Mrs. Cotton suffered from dyslexia as a child, with English being the toughest subject for her when she was in school.
Having more than overcome her struggles, she now teaches sixth grade English, journalism, and the aforementioned dyslexia class.
"And I never thought I would teach middle school, but I love it," exclaimed Cotton. "Especially students that struggle. When they learn something, they get excited about learning because it finally clicks."
Cotton has now been chosen as the January 2022 Arp ISD/KTBB Radio Teacher of the Month by her peers and the district administration, who also gave her the honor in April of 2021.
"It really feels good. Makes me feel like I'm doing something right," said Cotton.
However, after earning a bachelor's degree from Texas A&M-Commerce in 2016, she admits she didn't exactly feel like a natural leading a classroom the following school year.
"I'll be honest, the first year was scary. It was really scary," Cotton explained.
Cotton was a second grade teacher at Jacksonville ISD. A position she held for three years before coming to Arp.
But she says it was the thoughtfulness of one student that helped her adjust, and conquer her new challenges.
"For a student to just think about me outside of the classroom and just let me know, 'Hey, I'm praying for you,' it just meant a lot to me. It helped me every day get through a lot of (tough) times," Cotton described.
That's why she stresses that building relationships with her students is very important to her.
"I want them to know that I care about them and that I'm here for them."
Factors that allow her students to connect with her as she seeks something simple from them, effort.
"I want them to feel comfortable. I want them to try. I think a lot of students are just scared to try a lot of times because they're scared they'll make a mistake," Cotton clarified.
She adds that she's always eager to work with them if they simply won't give up.
"I want them to try hard. And then together we can reach whatever goal they have," Cotton explained.
She states that part of her teaching philosophy comes from one of writer/activist Maya Angelo's famous quotes.
"I feel like that's kind of my goal, because I want them to know I care," Cotton defined.
And it matters to her, how her students wind up doing after they leave her classroom.
"I've actually talked to parents of two of my first year students (recently) because they always have a special place in my heart," said Cotton.