LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Baylee Teagarden

Position: Physical Education & Health Teacher
School: Paola High School
School District: Paola USD 368
City, State: Paola, KS

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Baylee Teagarden was nominated by her outgoing principal, Phil Bressler. 

In every school, there are people who make a difference. However, there are those rare souls whose efforts at building relationships and validating the worth of individuals goes above and beyond what others are willing to give, truly creating a culture change, one student at a time. At Paola High School, Baylee Teagarden is that LifeChanger.

From day one, Ms. Teagarden began bouncing ideas of how to improve her department and the overall climate of the school. She took charge of a new course, and in its second year, it became the most requested course in the high school. It was so popular that they turned away more students than they were able to enroll. The enrollments in her other elective classes also grew markedly, causing the school to achieve record enrollments in the PE department with nearly 75% percent of students taking at least one PE class. This was a marked shift.

This spring, Ms. Teagarden saw a need for more health education, especially on the mental health side of the equation. She revamped the traditional freshman PE/Health class into a semester-long health class, with components of physical health, emotional health, and well-being. To do this, she has handed over the reigns of the most-requested course to a colleague so she could work where she felt she had the most leverage in the long run.

Ms. Teagarden has lobbied for new equipment to provide her students with a broad base of physical opportunities and to maintain high engagement levels for classes of 30 or more students. The addition of heart rate monitors to her classes allowed her to individualize workouts to student needs, and create a grading system based on student effort related to ability instead of a hard and fast one-size-fits-all approach. Adding the DrumFit to her curriculum gave students another engaging avenue to find joy in exercise, and she has plans to share the new equipment with her district's elementary schools in the coming year. Her efforts have taken her school from considering a decrease in staff to needing an additional teacher if funding allowed.

The story behind this growth is a woman who gives her all to her students. She has revived a department that had reached a stagnancy by reaching out to students and encouraging them to try her classes. She has engaged the students who are holdovers in her classes and fostered a renewed energy. Ms. Teagarden's a positive, upbeat part of the staff who sees potential where others see negativity or indifference. She brings a kind face and kinder words to students who need it, yet she possesses the ability to keep her students accountable for their attitude and effort toward reaching their potential. She's the teacher one hopes their child has.

" In my 25 years of education, I've never before observed a new teacher become so endeared to so many students in such a short time. That endearment is not hollow and is due to her love for them and her unwavering commitment to their growth and development," Bressier said. "During graduation practice, I asked our seniors to identify the staff member in our building who is most responsible for their completion of high school. Of 125 seniors, several identified Mrs. Teagarden or, as many of them fondly refer to her, "T". And I'm quite confident if we were to do the exercise with all 600+ students, her name would be offered with a similar, if not greater, percentage."

Selfless, committed, dependable, caring, unassuming, humble, hungry, focused, a great teammate, and loves kids. That's Ms. Teagarden in fourteen words.

"I'm leaving Paola High School at the close of June to assume a new position in another district," Bressier said. "If I could choose one employee to take with me, Baylee Teagarden would be the unequivocal choice. She's everything you want in a teacher and, for me, the best hire I've ever made."

Comments (22)

Jami Posted over a year ago

Bailey is truly a game changer. Her heart is bigger than any I have met. She care immensely for her students and volleyball players. Her kind spirit is second to none. "Give more than you take"... this phrase describes Bailey perfectly!

Linda Rohs Posted over a year ago

This gives me such joy but no surprise! I had the awesome pleasure of working with Baylee at the Veterinary Health Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State Universary. She was one terrific assest at the Discharge/Emergency Desk! A very stressful environment which she took in stride. Her positive, friendly attitude helped clients, staff and pets as well. She was dependable and hard working which made my supervisory role much easier! She always went beyond what was required, average would never be an adjective I would use in her evaluation. She comes from "good people" and spreads sunshine wherever she goes. Thank you for recognizing what a Treasure she is! You are fortunate to have her and I am thankful that you know that!

Bill Dempsey Posted over a year ago

what a beautiful spirit. Baylee has alway's been special too me and we all know that she is a great inspiration to all who come in contact with her.

Rhonda Posted over a year ago

Baylee is a vibrant, out going individual with a can do attitude. Positive, encouraging to others with unbelievable mental strength. I worked with Baylee out our church. She did wonders for the children's program.

Jami Dempsey Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Teagarden is not only an amazing teacher but is an all around amazing person with the biggest heart of anyone I know. Since I can remember she has gone above and beyond for the sake of others, consistently putting herself last. Her love of kids and people in general can be seen in her everyday actions, and her belief that everyone can achieve with the right encouragement and support is evident. Mrs. Teagarden's love of kids and belief in their success makes her go above and beyond academics resulting in making lasting positive relationships with all of her students. Mrs. Teagarden is most deserving of this lifechanger award as she is truly someone who changes people's lives for the better.

Kelly Haupt Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Teagarden certainly has a heart for kids, God bless her and her accomplishments!

Trish Maxwell Posted over a year ago

Baylee Teagarden is AMAZING! Her first year of teaching she challenged the students in her girls fitness classes to run a 5K to help raise funds for our elementary school's Night at the Museum. She told the girls that she would be with them every step of the way and I was there to witness that promise taking place. She could have easily finished the race and waited to cheer on her girls from the finish line. This however would never have been an acceptable behavior for her. She encouraged numerous girls, several who would have NEVER considered attempting a 5K, every step of the 3.2 miles with a positive, upbeat attitude and a smile on her face. It was amazing to see the hugs, the smiles, the high fives and the absolute joy on the faces of these young women at the finish line. I enjoy every opportunity I get to visit with her. SHE is a LIFECHANGER!

Deanell Wieland Posted over a year ago

If Baylee Teagarden could adopt every kid that she would like to take under her wing, she'd have her own city! She has a way of being "home" for her students--that warm, comforting, stable, safe place that one can always depend on. She holds them accountable for their choices and decisions. Her heart breaks privately when they choose poorly and celebrates with them when they have success. Baylee's professional plate consists of teaching and coaching, to which she gives 150%, while her personal plate is also full with special circumstances at home that require her heart and energy 150% as well. Without fail, however, she can be found always encouraging, always inspiring everyone that she meets. She's an asset to PHS and has, no doubt, been life-changing for our students.

Skip Grove Posted over a year ago

This kind, gentle lady & her husband coached our grandsons T-Ball Team in summer of 2016 at Parker , Ks. She was so kind & patient to her team. She encouraged each member. She never made a bad comment to her team. She was a outstanding lady. She also visited with her teams family at sometime. She always wore a beautiful smile. Ms. Teagarden deserves all the recognition she can get.. Was hoping she would coach this year, but she never. Good luck Ms Teagarden

Delaney Taylor Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Teagarden for Recreational Sports my senior year at Paola High School. She never failed to make me smile and especially the ones that needed her smile. Her consistency to make others feel welcome and important is one of her strongest characteristics. I had Mrs. Teagarden during her first year at Paola High and she fit in well, made a name for herself (in a positive way), and most importantly was selfless. Overall, she is very deserving of this award and recognition.

Jenny Robison Posted over a year ago

My son was one of the students who benefited from Ms. Teagarden's classes. She was definitely one of his favorite teachers. Congrats!

Sue Brown Posted over a year ago

Baylee is an inspiration. She's a woman of kindness and integrity. She is very deserving of this award!

Joyce Sergent Posted over a year ago

Well said, Mr. Bressler. Baylee is undoubtedly deserving of this honor, and you and your school are to be credited for recognizing, supporting, and encouraging her insight and commitment to education and personal growth in her students.

Melinda Pitzer Posted over a year ago

Baylee Teagarden is an amazing teacher who teaches students more than from just a book. She is everyone's go to teacher as she listens and she fights for what is right for the students. She is selfless and I have never seen her without a smile and would move mountains for any child. She is a phenomenal example of perseverance accompanied by love and passion. Her presence makes everyone a better person for being around her.

Karla Haddock Posted over a year ago

Bailee Teagarden is absolutely deserving of this honor. I can not speak highly enough of her. I would be more than willing to speak privately or email directly my reasons for believing that Ms. Teagarden is literally a Lifechanger.

Megan Olson Posted over a year ago

Baylee makes a difference everyday. Her spirit and zest for what she believes in is contagious! My daughter shared many personal conversations about life with her and always walked away feeling understood and appreciated. Paola High School is a better place hands down because of Mrs. Teagarden.

Kevin Schasteen Posted over a year ago

Great teacher.

Valaire Henderson Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Teagarden has been an amazing influence on both of my teenagers currently enrolled at PHS. My oldest has a hearing loss and often times has struggled at school between surgeries, recoveries, and just not hearing well. Mrs. Teagarden is one of those amazing teachers that from day one has always taken the time to be understanding and a positive person in my oldest daughter's day. She looks forward to her class with her with anticipation and knows that she is a teacher she can trust and confide in. As parents we are thankful to have someone as amazing and positive as an influence on our girls' lives.

Jami Woods Posted over a year ago

I don't know of a more deserving individual! Baylee is strong, motivating & cares deeply about children. Her love & kindness shows in all that she does!

Katie Martin Posted over a year ago

Baylee is so inspiring to me as a parent she see the good and the worth in every person she meets! She has been a huge part of my kiddo building more self confidence in herself! Thank you for all you do for the students a PHS

So Hollingsworth Posted over a year ago

I have known Baylee for many years. She is caring, loving and makes a difference in every life she touches. She is an incredible person and I am so pleased she is being recognized for all the good she has done and continues to do. She is one in a million!

Wylie Taul Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Teagarden is truly one of those individuals that goes above and beyond in all areas of her life. She puts her heart and soul into her role as a wife, mother, teacher, mentor and coach. She cares deeply about her students and athletes and is always willing to step up, help out and provide a safe place for her students to feel heard and understood. She encourages her students to dream big and shoot for the moon because she truly believes with the right support and encouragement they can be successful. She gives so much to everyone in her life without hesitation or desire for acknowledgement. She does all this while still managing a household, caring for her two beautiful children and advocating for her disabled daughter. Mrs. Teagarden is truly a life changer in the lives of so many. She absolutely deserves to be recognized for all of her hard work and dedication as she has made it her life's work to ensure the success of our future generations.