There's something special about returning to your school to teach.
"You're loved and you're taken care of," said Arp High School English teacher Hayley McClendon, a proud 2012 graduate of Arp ISD.
McClendon was recognized by her peers and the district's administration as Arp ISD's KTBB February 2022 teacher of the month.
It marks the second time she garners the nod in her five years at Arp High School, after earning it in February of 2018.
"I love being here in calling it home. It's always been home. You just feel comfortable to go and ask for things that you need, or if you need to express something that you feel needs to be said, you're comfortable in doing so," McClendon explained.
Interestingly enough, McClendon graduated from Arp with plans of becoming a lawyer, and completed an associate's degree in paralegal studies at Tyler Junior College.
But after working for a criminal defense attorney, she changed her mind.
McClendon went on to receive a Bachelor's degree in English from UT Tyler in 2016.
She then had the opportunity to teach eighth grade English at Kilgore ISD for one school year.
McClendon stresses "It opened my eyes to the love that is here in the Arp community," which makes her appreciate her alma mater "even more."
She came back home for the Fall of 2017, and has worn many hats since.
McClendon has taught sophomore, and junior English, as well as reading. She has also been Arp High School's co-cheer sponsor the last five years, and our junior high cheer sponsor the last four years. McClendon was a Tiger cheerleader herself before cheering for TJC.
"I love cheerleading," she exclaimed. "I wish that we could dedicate more time to it because there's so much that we could add to it. I love getting to spend that extra time with the girls on a different level and pushing them to try harder things."
McClendon also assists with Arp's academic rodeo squad. One of her teams placed third at the East Texas State Fair's pentathlon in February.
She's also the literary criticism coach for Arp High School's UIL academic teams. They placed second at the district competition with senior Dalton Prather qualifying for regionals.
She also managed to lead the junior class college field trip earlier this month to East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.
"I love getting to know the kids and building those relationships. It's just rewarding, and it's enough to make you want to balance it all," McClendon explained.
In the classroom, her approach centers around getting to know each of her students at the beginning of a school year.
"I like to think of each period, like a different family," said McClendon. "Every class is different. I know which periods are going to read better than the other class periods because the personalities are just different. So I think just getting to know them and taking that time in the beginning of the year is important to have more success throughout the year with the individuals in each class."
She adds that it is really "eye opening" how much the English language has evolved and wants her students to understand that.
"Our words are important and words have so much power behind them. So to use words correctly, and to use the correct word for how you're really trying to make someone feel is crucial," McClendon clarified.