Kayla Accoo has been preparing to become a teacher for most of her life. At age 6, she would pretend to be a teacher while playing with her cousins at her grandmother’s house, passing out journals and papers and discussing her “lesson plan” for the day.
“I would try to teach them math and teach them how to read,” said Accoo, an Africana Studies major at Georgia State University.
“I would make everyone raise their hands,” she laughed. “It was very thorough.”
Now Accoo, who is graduating in May, is about to become a teacher and looking forward to helping inspire the next generation of scientists, doctors and educators.
“Teaching has been woven into my life as something I’ve always wanted to do,” Accoo said. “I’ve already been able to touch so many lives and I’ve been able to connect with so many people on a level I never imagined.”
Accoo has volunteered with numerous community initiatives while at Georgia State, including Raising Expectations Inc., a nonprofit organization teaching positive self-esteem, leadership and academic skills to young adults from underserved and disenfranchised communities.
As an academic leader for the program, Accoo taught science, technology, engineering, arts and math(STEAM) subjects to middle school students.
“Being in that environment, I think it’s important for me to care about my kids and have their best interests at heart,” Accoo said. “I remember being a student and being in their shoes and going through life, so I always want to be there for them.”
While volunteering at Raising Expectations, Accoo said she was able to interest her students in STEAM subjects with classroom experiments, such as simulating oil spills and creating electrical circuits. Some students ended up participating in a local science fair.
“At first, my students were hesitant, but I had to find out what they found interesting and find a way to bring that into the classroom,” Accoo said. “It was something I had to work toward, but the end result was definitely worth it.”
Accoo, who is also a student in Georgia State’s Honors College, has volunteered on campus with organizations such as Her Campus, the National Council of Negro Women and EmpowHER GSU. She’s also a member of the Zeta Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Accoo said her love of helping and advocating for marginalized groups stems from her grandmother, who was a civil rights activist.
“My grandmother would always talk to me about the civil rights movement and what she experienced during her time,” Accoo said. “Even though I was young, I understood the importance of what she was saying, and it stuck with me.”
Accoo has been studying in her free time for an alternative teaching certificate. She plans to use her degree in Africana Studies to better relate to her students as a middle school history teacher.
Accoo, who graduated from Dutchtown High School in Henry County in 2017, came to Georgia State on a campus tour and said the university felt like home.
She looks forward to accepting one of the offers she has gotten to teach but says she will miss Georgia State.
“The community around Georgia State is so supportive,” Accoo said. “I don’t think any other school would have fostered the same type of community. There’s nothing like it.”