Hometown Hero: Kayla Geisen

Kayla Geisen is a teacher dedicated to her profession and to the students with whom she interacts in the classroom. But before that, she has a higher calling: an identification with something greater than her profession.

She says “yes, I am a teacher, but I identify myself as a child of God first and foremost. So I think that’s important to say. I wouldn’t be who I am without Christ.”

Kayla teaches at public schools in West Chester, Ohio with students in the junior high and high school age range. In the morning she works with 7th and 8th grade ESL students. For the rest of the day she works in a high school as an English teacher. When asked what’s it’s like to work with that age group, she enthusiastically comments that it’s wonderful and that she loves what she does.

Before she considered teaching, she went through a process of discovering the career path that God had for her. She comments “I went to school at Anderson University in Indiana, which is a small Christian school. I went initially thinking I would be a missionary. But I wasn’t really sure about that, to be completely honest with you. I knew I wanted to do something with Jesus and just trusted that He would tell me. And He did! I was going through some of the prerequisites that are required at a liberal arts school, and I went and talked to a professor of mine, Joyce Redman. She’s just a fabulous woman, a woman of God, really. She said, listen, you don’t have to go to a different country for your mission field to be there. Your mission field is your backyard. And I’ve carried that with me.”

She continues “And so as I became a teacher, you know, I was praying one time and just said, okay, God, I really don’t know what to do with this whole career thing. I was, what, 18? How do you even know when you’re 18? That shed some light on the things I’m doing with my current seniors. I see them, I see myself in them, and I’m like, how do they even know what they’re supposed to be doing? So I just try to help them navigate as best I can. To let them know that, first, let’s be a human and then second, let’s try and do something with our time, not waste time, because we’re only here for one life. Let’s make the best of it.”

When asked if she has seen God show up as she interacts with her students, she gives two examples. Her first story was an organic conversation she had with one of her junior high ESL students. She says “we were doing a project on Rome where they had to write a letter to someone like an emperor or ruler of that time to say thank you for something that we currently have. One of my students said that she was writing a letter to Emperor Constantine about how he allowed Christianity to transform things. And I was like, Wow, really? Okay, let’s talk about that. My student was the one that approached me about this, so I knew then I could talk freely about what was being said. So I asked what did he really do and why are you saying thank you? It was just this beautiful conversation in English and Spanish. This is why I do what I do.”

The second story is about a student from her high school who has continued to stay in contact with Kayla even after graduation. She says “she approached me after class one day and asked if I had any books or resources that she could read that would tell me more about Jesus? And I said, Wow, okay. Yes, thank you for seeing that in me and for trusting me. I just pointed her in the direction of what came to mind.”

Kayla represents the principles of whole life integration and the courage to respond to the call of God in her work. She is salt and light, expressing her faith through who she is. People respond to it, and she responds to them in turn.

Kayla lives in West Chester, OH with her husband, Daniel and their two children, Jack and Junia.