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Morgantown, West Virginia
Master’s Student in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development & Family Studies
When they start college, many students don’t know exactly what they want to do after graduation. This wasn’t the case for Morgantown native Kaitlyn Gyorko. Growing up as the eldest sibling and cousin in her family, she naturally developed a teaching mentality. When she began to think about a future career, she realized being a pre-K teacher was the perfect fit for her.
“I had this connection with pre-K kids,” Gyorko said. “It’s something about this age group. They’re so into exploration, and they’re so curious about everything that’s going on in the world around them.”
Gyorko began her college experience at Pierpont Community and Technical College, where she earned an associate’s degree in in early childhood. Once she finished there, she came to CEHS to complete her bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies.
During her time as an undergraduate student at CEHS, Gyorko appreciated her professors’ dedication to her and all of the students in her program.
“All of my professors were really in tune with their students,” Gyorko said. “Whatever your destination or dream was, they wanted to help you get there. They’re always pushing you to be the best that you can be.”
Having her professors by her side and cheering her on was gratifying and affirmed that Gyorko had chosen the right career path.
Gyorko also had the opportunity to work in the the WVU Nursery School during her undergraduate studies. While working in the nursery school, she was able to both observe and teach the students using lesson plans that she designed. As she continues on in pursuit of her master’s degree at CEHS, Gyorko now serves as a graduate assistant for the WVU Nursery School as the recipient of the Slaughter Family Fellowship.
The Slaughter Family Fellowship was established by Jay Slaughter in 2008 to honor his late wife, Phyllis. Phyllis earned a master’s degree in early child development from CEHS. This fellowship provides the funds to a graduate student who is working in the WVU Nursery School.
“My wife, Phyllis, was very interested in passionate about child development and the study of child development,” Slaughter said. “She was very active in that field and this is just a great way to honor her and continue her legacy.”
In her first year as a graduate student, Gyorko is hopeful about what her future holds. She also enjoys spending more time in her happy place, the WVU Nursery School, and learning from Nursery School instructors Melissa Workman and Keri Law. With their help, she is beginning to work on her thesis project, which is centered around teaching mathematics at the pre-K level.
“I want to make math kits for the pre-K level students and present that to the county as well as other pre-K teachers to use in their classrooms,” Gyorko said.
Gyorko teaches the afternoon class, which consists of children ages four to five. The class starts with play plans and then transitions into free play. After that, the class engages in large group time and centers. Throughout her time working with the children, the greatest reward for Gyorko is seeing her students engaged in learning.
“Nothing is better than when a kid is having a bad day and tells you that you make a difference and they give you a big hug,” Gyorko said. “Just to see the kids in my class happy to be in school is the icing on the cake.”