Globetrotting Teacher


With a well-travelled passport and a dream to help othersone Etowah teacher spends her days fulfilling her passion for travel. Though the majority of her time is spent in the hallways of EHS, when she is not grading papers, she is journeying the world.  

Accompanied by a large map and a variety of student backgrounds in her classroom, new English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, Kayleigh Ethayananth (Eat-a-yawn-end) who recently transferred from Fulton County to shorten her commute, incorporates her passion for travelling into her teaching techniques. 

I really try to incorporate the kids and their cultural backgrounds [in the classroom.] I try to let them hear and talk about where each other [are] from and the differences and similarities between there and here,” Ethayananth said.  

Since her first solo trip to Italy at eighteen, Ethayananth has only fallen deeper in love with discovering new cultures. As she grew older, she continued to visit a variety of countries and towns, including a mission trip to Honduras. While in HondurasEthayananth dedicated her days to helping citizens, which influenced her decision to make the shift from teaching Spanish to English for those unfamiliar with the language 

I think that I am firm, and I have my rules, but it’s not because I want control, it’s because I want what is best for the kids, Ethayananth said.  

Of the many trips she has taken, Ethayananth’s wedding in India is one of her most notable. Though the wedding was in a country nearly 9,000 miles awaythe Indian ceremony was not much different from a traditional American weddingEthayananth was overjoyed to participate in a culturally enlightening ceremony with her new family. 

“I only remember feeling excitement and joy at my wedding in India. I was so thrilled to be marrying such a wonderful person in the place that formed him and in the presence of his loving family and friends,” Ethayananth said.  

As an ESOL teacher with over eight years of experience, Ethayananth has faced an extensive range of challengesHer classroom is brimming with a variety of cultures, backgrounds, and languages, which sometimes makes it difficult to ensure that every student is working at the same pace. Due to this obstacle, Ethayananth spends a lot of time working individually with her students to ensure they are fully grasping the material.  

I try to build those personal relationships. I would bend over backwards to help kids make up work, letting them come [during] lunch and stay after school, Ethayananth said.  

A key component of helping her students learn is by establishing a progressive relationship that allows them to feel comfortable when communicating with her. One of Ethayananth’s main goals is getting to know her students on a personal level, which she hopes will make them more courageous when asking questions.  

I would say [as advice] to be brave and to reach out for help and make the connections. Don’t be so worried about making a mistake or worrying that you are going to fail,” Ethayananth said.  

Though she may be a teacher, Ethayananth works her hardest to incorporate her love for traveling and fascination in diverse cultures into her career and life. In Ethayananth’s classroom, a student’s education is more than simply learning facts and numbers, it is about learning to grow, thrive, and communicate with others within the unfamiliar environment a new language creates