MALC teacher makes education hands-on, project-based to keep students engaged
BULLHEAD CITY — Most successful people can point to one teacher who showed up in his or her life at just the right time. A lucky few then get to be that person of influence.
For middle school teacher Victoria Hoyt, it was Mr. Bellamy, her seventh-grade social studies teacher.
And now, Hoyt will be that teacher for the future successes who leave her classroom, according to Mohave Accelerated Learning Center administration.
“She is very patient and caring to our students,” administrator Jeremy Klingensmith said. “Students know they can count on her to always help them out.”
Teaching — that is, having “teacher” as her job title — is a second career for Hoyt.
She entered the profession eight years ago, after having been an environmental health and safety manager for a large construction company
But she said she has always loved teaching. In fact, in her previous position, she developed curricula for the corporation.
Hoyt described her teaching style as hands-on and project-based.
“I didn’t like school when I was little,” she admitted. “I thought it was boring. I got to college and realized that learning can be fun and enlightening.”
She tries to bring her students to the same realization.
Her seventh-graders, in a unit on the Civil War, will play a game that involves them portraying individual soldiers and placed in various time specific scenarios.
Hoyt said the unit also includes “a lot of in-depth reading” and student presentations in which they can teach one another.
The seventh-graders also will do a family history project, in which each student will trace her ancestors back to the immigrant who came to America.
Hoyt said that project will start with interviews with parents and grandparents and include additional research on family names and other factors.
Eighth-graders, she said, will study the U.S. Constitution, both in terms of its creation and its meaning, as well as supporting documents, and conduct research projects that will be highlighted at a student symposium.
The final for eighth-graders will be the U.S. Citizenship exam — the test every high schooler now must pass to be eligible for graduation.
Hoyt also teaches a cultural-arts elective class that covers the history and contemporary art, music and food of each continent.
Her classroom rules “are a little bit unusual,” Hoyt said.
They’re based on the Toltec culture’s Four Agreements: “be impeccable with your word,” “don’t take anything personally,” “don’t make assumptions” and “always do your best.”
Hoyt said the philosophy ties in with the school’s positive action program, which is based in cognitive behavioral therapy and aims to teach students ways of thinking that lead to better behavior.
In addition to her teaching duties, Hoyt coaches the middle school volleyball team and until recently was involved with the MALC Junior Youth Moral Empowerment Group, which she co-led.
The passionate teacher wants to send her students off to high school aware of their own abilities, she said.
“I like when the children understand that they can really think for themselves and be confident that they can find the information they need to make good decisions,” Hoyt said.