A&M-Central Texas Grad Returns to Gatesville as Math Teacher

When she was just a little girl in Gatesville, Texas, KayLeigh Tennison, now 22, played her first game of T-ball.

And while the little ponytailed girl in a helmet and uniform spent youthful seasons learning to swing for the fences while family and friends cheered her on, the woman she is today has not forgotten what she loves about the game.

“I played little league forever,” she said. “I was the catcher on the girl’s softball team throughout high school, and even played on the traveling softball team in Hamilton.”

A&M-CEntral Texas graduate KayLeigh Tennison

Recenlty, she said, a coach for the team, The Rattlers, invited her to take on a spot as assistant coach which she happily accepted.

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that I will love this game for the rest of my life,” she admitted. “But we all grew up, went to college, got married, and started families, so I guess you could say that adulthood got in the way.”

For Tennison, adult life is about as straight as a line drive to first base. Only she won’t be wearing cleats and a uniform come the end of the summer. This A&M-Central Texas graduate will lead a different kind of team this fall, teaching 9th and 10th grade at Gatesville High School – the same high school where she was once both a student and an athlete.

Her mother, Leighann Goodwin, has taught in the Gatesville district for years, and will begin a new position as director of special populations after having also served as an assistant principal at Gatesville Elementary School.

“My maternal grandmother, Patty Stowe, was also a lifelong teacher,” she said proudly. “I guess that means I am a third generation teacher and very proud of our commitment to teaching and remaining in the area.”

Tennison received the Grow Your Own Scholarship designed and offered by Gatesville to keep local teaching talent in the classroom. And, by all appearances, that is exactly what it has accomplished.

Enrolling full-time at Temple College after her high school graduation, she completed the first two years of college with an impressive 3.93 GPA. Transferring to A&M-Central Texas, she completed her undergraduate degree n mathematics right in only two years despite the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Two other teachers, Temple College Professor Mary Hatsell and A&M-Central Texas Professor, Dr. Mienie Roberts, she said, mirrored her own passion for math and encouraged her dreams of teaching as she moved from course to course over the years.

“I have always loved math,” she admitted. “And working with Mrs. Hatsell and Dr. Roberts was one of the best experiences I have ever had as a student. They recognized how to take my love for math and show me how I can make it something my students will love, too.”

Barrett Pollard, Gatesville ISD Superintendent, acknowledged Tennison’s dedication to becoming a teacher at a ceremony honoring the GYO scholarship recipients in 2018.

“What is striking about KayLeigh is that she has never wavered from her goal of becoming a high school math teacher. She is going to be an outstanding secondary math teacher, which is extremely difficult to find. We are definitely reaping the benefits of our Grow Your Own partnership with Texas A&M University-Central Texas, and we couldn't be more pleased."

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