Jayongela Wilder: Carver School of the Arts | American Graduate Champions | PBA30

APS Teacher Of The Year For High School Makes Learning Fun

by Shelby Lin Erdman • OCT 27, 2015

Video produced by Dan Gillette and Gordon Ray

Every year Atlanta Public Schools honors the three best teachers in the district with a Teacher of the Year award: one from elementary school, one from middle school, and one form high school. The three teachers then go on to compete against each other for the top, district-wide Teacher of the Year honor.

Public Broadcasting Atlanta’s American Graduate program also chooses special Atlanta Schools teachers to honor with its Champion Award and this year one of those teachers happens to be Carver High School of the Arts drama teacher and APS High School Teacher of the Year Jayongela Wilder.

There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college

One of the reason Wilder was chosen?

“If you walked into my classroom on a typical afternoon, you would definitely see some sort of writing piece. You would definitely see students acting on stage and you would see kids having a good time and having fun,” she explained to PBA 30 one recent afternoon.

Wilder’s dynamic and energetic teaching style keeps students interested and engaged.


And more and more educators now understand that when children have fun at school, not only do they want to go to school, but they want to learn, too.

“We’ve got to get kids having fun in the classroom,” Wilder said.

Wilder delivers on that mission, too. It’s one of the reason APS officials selected her for one of the top honors an educator can receive.


“I am Teacher of the Year for High School and I am honored and humbled all at the same time. It’s just such a wonderful, wonderful opportunity,” she said.

Teaching is a higher calling for many teachers. And so it is, too, with Wilder.

Wilder even got a little choked up when asked why she teaches. She explained it this way.

“I do it because I love it and when you look down the road for five, six years later, there is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college. It is definitely the most amazing part of being a teacher.”

“This is something I would have never asked for.”


PBA's Atlanta Champions


Scott Allen

"He is such a dedicated teacher who says that he is awed by his students’ creativity and original thought."


Mouhammed Bah

"I think education brings more wealth to being successful than any other thing in life."


Travis Brown

"He just does everything he can to insure that when a student comes in his class he’s removed all barriers so that they can truly learn."


Atia Butts

"You always want to have the mindset of succeeding and if you know the people around you are not going down that path then do your best to be nice, be cordial, but distance yourself from those".

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Kim Bearden

"No child should ever be allowed to be invisible in a classroom."

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Barry Blackmon

"I use a lot of different methods and try to mix my own type of gumbo within the classroom, such as discipline and humor."


Meria Carstarphen

"We really want parents to help us get children in school, on time, every single day and that starts with getting up and making sure they can get out of the house on time, into the bus or walking to school."

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Ron Clark

"We’re trying to lift the spirits of our students so they’ll be excited and they’ll be eager to learn."


Megan Gilroy

"Health can still be fun. It doesn’t have to be this drudgery exercise in this terrible thing."


Dave Howland

"Literally every single grade a kid gets in high school has an impact on their future trajectory. So making sure that that’s a big piece, helps them stay on track to graduate."


Kesha Payne

"Every decision you make, keep students first. I say communicate clearly with parents and administrators. I say collaborate effectively with your colleagues and keep students top of mind."


Immanuel Reed

"When I was a kid, being a part of a program like this helped me tremendously, and I think that me doing the same thing for others, giving them chances, giving them the opportunity to make the best decisions, it’s full circle for me."


Dan Sims

"The hope is in the school house and we hold a primary place in inspiring kids to look beyond this time frame."


Amber Stewart

"The success of a student hinges on the teacher that’s standing in front of that classroom and hinges on the school leader that’s running that school."


Darryl Terry

"As a student in one of the most impoverished areas of Atlanta, I’ve always known that education is going to be my only way out."


Stuart Thorn

"We’ve been able to take the graduation rate for this cohort of kids up from probably what would have been in the neighborhood of five to 15 percent up to now above 85 percent."


Dennis Tolliver

"He captures his students’ attention and they hold on to every word that he says because they know what he gives will truly benefit their lives."

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Jayongela Wilder

"There is nothing more rewarding then seeing a kid that you taught graduate from college."