Education of a Lifetime
Lyla Gray Hanig, Bearer of the Shield
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Concentration – Social Sciences
Hometown: Currituck County, North Carolina
Lyla Gray Hanig is starting her career in a setting she knows well from her childhood: her elementary school.
“I was in the first fourth grade class at Jarvisburg Elementary School in Jarvisburg, North Carolina, and did my student teaching there.” She describes it as a full circle moment because beginning January 3, 2023, she will be Jarvisburg Elementary School’s new kindergarten teacher. She also coaches cheer at Currituck County High School, the same school where she cheered and earned her high school diploma. “I genuinely feel like my dreams are coming true. When I was in elementary school, I looked up to my teachers so much.” When asked, she can list all of them by name.
Hanig entered ECSU as a transfer student after earning her associate’s degree from College of the Albemarle. She started at Pitt Community College, took a health care course at Sentara, but went back to her original calling. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” she says.
While student teaching for the past four and a half months, Hanig passed the edTPA exam, a performance-based, subject-specific assessment and support system used by teacher preparation programs throughout the United States. She will take the Praxis exam in the next year and plans to start studying this summer.
“After completing my student teaching, I knew how much my teachers resonated with me and I wanted to make a difference for other young people and be that teacher for someone else. Jarvisburg Elementary is a Title I school [schools with at least 40% of the population designated as economically disadvantaged] and I recognize that school is a safe space—it’s where students feel cared and comfortable,” shares Hanig. “In my new role, I can be that caring person for them five days a week, and it is rewarding. Taking on this new job is making so much more of an impact on me than I thought. I am so happy I choose this path and feel very, very blessed.”
Dr. Sheila Williams, chair of the ECSU Department of Education, notes, “Lyla’s strong work ethic was evident throughout her time at ECSU. She excelled in her coursework and has prepared to become a strong teacher leader. Students will advance under her guidance and support.”
As she finishes her bachelor’s degree, she credits her parents, Kelly and Bobby Hanig, as well as her boyfriend, Jason, and her family and friends for supporting her throughout her journey. She will has earned one of only two high honors bestowed to graduates at each Commencement: Bearer of the Shield. The honor recognizes the student who entered ECSU as a transfer student and has the highest cumulative GPA in the graduating class.
Asked about where Hanig sees herself in five to 10 years, she says she wants to first put in her time in the classroom as she enjoys working closely with children. “I may want to explore administration or become a principal at an elementary school or work with school curriculum—definitely somewhere in the school system.” For now, Hanig’s “kids” are calling and her new classroom awaits.