For Lillian Knisley, love for students maternal

Published 5:00 am Friday, September 22, 2023

Fourth-grade math and science teacher Lillian Knisely, 34, has a love for her students that is maternal.

“Each child that I teach holds a special place in my heart. I teach each child as if they were my children.”

A career in education was not Knisely’s original goal, but it was certainly her calling.

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“I originally wanted to work in healthcare but soon realized that wasn’t the profession for me. I then started working in a childcare center. Working in a childcare center, I realized I enjoyed teaching and caring for children.”

After graduating from Iowa High School, she attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in education.

The 2023-24 school year is her ninth year as an educator. She began her career at an elementary school in New Iberia. After two years, she moved back to Lake Charles to teach at Fairview Elementary. She moved to J.I. Watson for a stint of four years before moving back to Fairview, where she currently teaches.

Fairview is a hub for English as a second language (ESL) education. When Knisely was in high school, she enjoyed attending Spanish and English classes. Now, she is passing that love of language learning on to her students. She is attending Lamar State University to earn a Masters in teacher leadership with a concentration in ESL and will be graduating this fall.

In addition to teaching fourth grade at Fairview, she serves as a certified mentor teacher. In this role, she assists in guiding college students that are pursuing a career in education.

Though her path didn’t pave out the way that she originally intended, her one-on-one work with students has brought her fulfillment and joy.

In the classroom, her goal is to not only nurture her students, but herself.

“As an educator, I constantly want to learn and grow to be a better person and teacher for my students. My job is to help them grow, learn and be better humans, but they are also helping me.”

As an educator, she has the opportunity to see active growth in her students, and that is her favorite part.

“I love what I do, and I enjoy watching these amazing young people grow into the best people they can be and accomplish goals they never thought they could reach.”

She is able to boost this growth by curating a safe and welcoming classroom.

“I believe all children learn best in an environment where they feel comfortable to grow, make mistakes, and to express themselves in a judgment free environment.”

Every educator should maintain healthy connections with their students and promote forward movement within themselves, she said.

“Advice that I would give current or future educators would be to take the time and build relationships with your students. Never stopping learning and growing. Seek opportunities to develop professionally every chance you get.”