Being announced as Aynor Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year was the icing on the cake for Kaitlyn Ryhal – the wedding cake to be exact.
Just two weeks before her wedding, the announcement was made that she had won the honor. Her kindergarten students didn’t quite know what to make of it, except for being excited to hear their teacher’s name over the announcements.
“They understood a bit better after school administration came into my classroom, gave me flowers and explained what being Teacher of the Year meant,” Ryhal said.
She said that the 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds were most impressed that their teacher would get her own parking spot, she said with a laugh.
“This year has been the busiest year,” Ryhal said. “I was trying to be a wedding planner, getting ready to be a wife, and also trying to be a great teacher. I was feeling so drained, but hoped that somehow I was making a difference. This year was a special year to get that [recognition], it was a reminder that you’re always making more of an impact than you realize.”
Originally from the Pittsburgh, Pa., area, Ryhal said she moved around with her family a lot, but ended up in the Myrtle Beach area when she was in high school.
She attended Carolina Forest High School and obtained her bachelor’s degree at Coastal Carolina University. She also went on to complete CCU’s master’s degree program in instructional technology.
Before being sent to the area to complete a practicum her junior year, Ryhal had never been to Aynor.
“I didn’t know much about it. My professor said I would absolutely love it,” Ryhal said. “I just fell in love with the students, families, administration…my goal was to get a job out here.”
Her favorite thing about her job is seeing the growth in the children’s skillsets.
“I think especially at the kindergarten level…that kindergarten age is so special. We have so much fun, building social skills…hands-on education. I love seeing their love for learning grow as the year progresses. They really start to understand, and watching them take ownership is probably the biggest thing I enjoy.”
Another favorite in Ryhal’s life is family. She and her new husband recently moved into Downtown Conway, and she said they hope to have a family of their own one day.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fan also enjoys spending time serving at Newspring Church.
“Kaitlyn Ryhal is a ray of sunshine at Aynor Elementary. She brings a positive attitude each and every day and shares that enthusiastic attitude with her fellow staff members and her students,” said AES Principal Reggie Gasque. “Ms. Ryhal is passionate about teaching students and does so many little things that make large impressions on her students and their parents.”