Position: English Teacher
School: Westwood High School
School District: Mesa Public Schools
City, State: Mesa, Arizona
About the Nominee: Kayla Ruhland was nominated by her principal, Shoshana Cleary. Ms. Ruhland is a remarkable teacher. When Ms. Cleary first met her three years ago, she knew after interviewing and hiring her that she would be a great teacher. Ms. Ruhland quickly became a teacher that students talked about. She makes connections and genuinely cares about her students and their lives.
When you walk into her classroom, you immediately feel welcome. Students open up and talk about uncomfortable, sensitive or personal topics in their lives. Ms. Ruhland makes students feel safe by listening and doing whatever it takes to ensure they are successful.
In a recent school-wide student survey in which students indicated who their "trusted adult" was on campus, Ms. Ruhland was chosen by 108 students. This is a true testament to her ability to connect with students. In addition, she is an active, engaging teacher in the classroom. She is always student-centered and reflective in her practice, and she is always looking for strategies to improve her teaching.
Outside of the classroom, Ms. Ruhland coaches the color guard for the Marching Band. Historically, the color guard didn't have many students who wanted to participate. Ms. Ruhland has recruited more students and worked closely with the band director to grow the program. Recently, the marching band placed 2nd in the state. The Westwood High community is beyond lucky and grateful to have a teacher like Ms. Ruhland who truly changes the lives of her students on a daily basis!