Young Toliver teacher not only wants to help kids academically, but with integrity and character

Published 6:47 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Earlier this week, Kandyce Black was in her fourth-grade classroom at Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School making sure everything was in place and ready for her students in the upcoming school year.

Fourth-grade teacher Kandyce Black places pages of information on each desk in her classroom at Toliver. She is expecting to meet her students and their parents/guardians during the school’s open house Thursday evening. (Photo by Robin Hart)

The custodial team had polished the floor, and the dry erase board in the front of the room nearly glowed without any trace of last year’s markers. Every bright green bin was neatly labeled and in its place on shelves; and Black’s desk was organized with binders, books and lesson plans.

This is Black’s third year teaching fourth-grade at Toliver. She previously taught third grade for two years, she said.

Email newsletter signup

Many Toliver students and teachers will recognize Black and notice that she has the same classroom as last year, but there’s been a change. She’s no longer called Miss Montgomery. Her new name is Mrs. Black because she married in June, she said.

Black said she enjoys teaching fourth-grade students because “they’re a little bit more independent and you can teach a little bit more higher content. Like math, you just get a lot deeper into it, like fractions and multiplying.”

She said, “They know the basics, and now they’re learning to do more difficult things.”

A typical day in her class of 25 students consists of a morning reading lesson, then they break into small groups for 30 minutes of reading and 30 minutes of math; then “specials,” which changes every day and includes physical education,  music, science lab, and dance and drama. Then students have a math lesson until lunch, then recess, then have a science lesson. At the end of the school day, Black rotates between teaching writing and social studies.

She encourages parents to work with their children at home on assignments; Black sends home homework every Monday, and it’s due every Friday. Homework includes students reading at least 20 minutes every night and completing one page of math problems.

Black graduated from Boyle County High School in 2010, and from Eastern Kentucky University in 2014. She has also earned a master’s degree in education and is working on completing her National Board Certification.

Black started out wanting to be a news reporter, she said. But halfway through college, “I realized I wanted to be a teacher, so I changed my major.”

And she loves teaching.

“My favorite part is getting to know the students and building relationships with them. I also really love the classroom management aspect of teaching,” she said. “It means having things set up to where it encourages positive behavior and it keeps students engaged in what they’re learning. That way they’re not drifting off or not paying attention. … It can be difficult.”

Black said that teaching is really time consuming. She spends time after school, evenings and weekends “planning lessons and making sure I’m doing everything the best way that I can.”

For example, as the opening of school is getting closer, Black has been working on lesson plans and STEM activities (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), “so the children can get to know each other a little bit more and work on problem solving. That way they get a little bit more comfortable with their new classmates.”

The first couple of days, students tend to be more quiet and shy around each other and their new teacher, Black said. So working on STEM projects “gets them working together and getting to know each other.”

In addition to teaching her students academic lessons, Kandyce Black says she also want to teach them “how to be a person of integrity and character.” (Photo by Robin Hart)

Looking ahead, Black said, “I definitely want to teach them not only academically, but also just how to be a person of integrity and character. … I want to teach them how to be a nice person and how to be the best person they can be.”

Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School will hold an open house for students and parents Thursday evening.