Lytle a finalist in CAA category
LAUGHLIN — Wendi Lytle puts in a lot of extra time to meet the needs of her work family, which in turn means meeting the needs of students. All of her diligence is why she’s been nominated for Educator of the Year, one of many Community Achievement Awards through the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce.
“I really try to be everything they need me to be because they are my family,” said Lytle. “This is my life.”
Lytle’s contract with the school is to work from 7:30 a.m. to 2:41 p.m. each day but she really starts her day between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and stays well after school hours.
She described one week as leaving at 7:30 p.m. on a Monday; 7 p.m. on a Tuesday; 9:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, about 10 p.m. after a full day in Las Vegas for trainings on a Thursday. She did leave early one Friday but usually she stays at the junior senior high school until about 6 p.m. Fridays.
“I stay so any teacher who needs me can access me,” said Lytle.
Working hard is nothing new for her.
Lytle started her family young, right out of high school, she said. She’s married to Jason Lytle, who’s a custodian at Bennett Elementary School; she has two sons — Geddy, 23; and Brennen, 20.
“I started college right away and worked my way through five degrees,” said Lytle. She has her associate’s degrees in social work, technology and mathematics; a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s degree in counseling and human resources.
She didn’t want to be on state assistance so she worked two jobs while going through college.
“After that, I fed them, put them in bed and worked on my courses,” said Lytle. She did that through her master’s degree.
Lytle started her career in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., as a high school math teacher. She already had her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the time but she was also highly qualified because of all of her classes at the time and so her background provided her the opportunity to teach at a last-chance charter school, Lytle said. It was then she worked on getting her master’s degree in counseling to help better serve the students she worked with because that’s what they needed, she added.
“I was a good listener so it worked well,” said Lytle.
She worked her way up to being the dean of students, then an administrator. Once her own children became teenagers, she said she couldn’t raise them and teach them at the same time so she moved down to elementary school in the public school system.
As her career moved along through different grade levels, she eventually became disenchanted with how education was going in Arizona, said Lytle. At that point, she moved to Minnesota with her family to work at the Mayo Clinic.
It’s possible to take the teacher out of education, but education can’t be removed from the teacher, she realized.
“I missed being in a school environment so much that once I got a call there was an opening, I was like ‘I’m coming.’ I was here in two weeks ― quit my job, gave my notice, packed up my house and moved across the country in two weeks,” said Lytle. And she’s been in Laughlin ever since.
Lytle is the instructional strategist for grades 6 through 12. In that position she helps teachers with instruction, she said.
She is the leader for the Professional Learning Communities. The groups give teachers a voice, helps determine whether strategies are working or not and ensures they are using measurable approaches, she said.
Lytle is also part of the School Organization Team.
“Through (SOT) I was afforded lots of great opportunities to work with (Clark County Educators Association) and help lobby for rural schools legislation,” said Lytle. One such experienced included going to Reno and speaking with representatives about the needs of rural schools.
Through those efforts she’s been able to bring professional development to Laughlin.
“We often can’t make it to professional development because it’s in Las Vegas,” said Lytle. She worked to bring it here to save about three hours of driving and ensures local teachers get the same opportunities for growth as those in Las Vegas.
One successful distance professional development meant that Laughlin was designated to be the satellite school for other rural schools. “It’s a great opportunity to not only help local teachers but teachers from other rural areas,” she said.
She’s not in a particular classroom now but she does know students and they know her, she said.
She didn’t start education knowing that it would become her passion. But it has and she loves it, she explained.
“It really did become my passion and even when I did leave it, I couldn’t,” said Lytle. “It just fills me, I get as much as give.”