New teacher spending first year at Grace Bible Academy

Rachel McKendree is a perfect fit for her job at Grace Bible Academy.

She is fresh out of college, and Grace Bible Academy is in its inaugural year. Both are new and excited to grow.

McKendree is the kindergarten teacher at Grace Bible Academy.

“They took a chance on me being a first-year teacher,” McKendree said. “But everything’s new here, so I didn’t feel any different being new.”

McKendree graduated from the University of Kentucky in May with a bachelor’s in family sciences and is working on her master’s in elementary education.

She was born and raised in Lexington but recently moved to Winchester with her husband, Nathan, and two dogs, Flynn and Lexi.

McKendree teaches a class of five students.

“It’s just been an awesome opportunity,” McKendree said. “We have a smaller class size, and it’s pretty awesome to be able to pour into each student individually with that smaller class size, and we can do a lot more hands-on, one-on-one activities.”

The resources the church and the community have offered to the academy have also been a welcome surprise.

“To see how much they want this to succeed has been cool,” she said.

With such a small class size, “no child left behind” is at its best.

“If one student doesn’t understand what we’re doing, the others can go ahead and work or do something else, and I can focus with that one and not worry about them getting too far behind rather than having to wait and catch them up later,” McKendree said. “We can just stop and do it.”

McKendree said she also enjoys teaching at a Christian school.

“Where we are a Christian school, we’re able to pray and teach Bible lessons,” McKendree said. “…I know a lot of times in public school, you can’t bring that up. So, that’s always been something that’s been pretty important to me.”

Growing up, McKendree spent a lot of her time working with younger students whether it be baby-sitting or in a 4-H program. McKendree didn’t know what she wanted to do, but she knew she wanted to have a career working with children.

When she stumbled upon Grace Bible Academy’s job listing online, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I never really saw myself in an actual classroom teaching, but here I am, and I enjoy it,” McKendree said. “It just happened.”

After just a few short months, McKendree said she has enjoyed seeing her students grow in their learning and be excited about it.

In kindergarten, students will learn the alphabet, numbers up to 100 and more than 80 sight words. McKendree said students also begin reading and develop their social skills.

One of the more challenging aspects of being a teacher is trying to get students through their bad days, McKendree said.

“Always remember you’re smart,” McKendree said of the advice she gives her students. “You’re important. People are going to try to tear you down no matter how good you are at something, but always remember you know who you are inside. You know who God made you be, so keep that with you rather than worrying about what other people might say, are saying to you or say about you.”