Loess Hills teacher uses past experiences to connect with students
Sioux City, Iowa – Sometimes the best way to connect with students is by standing in their shoes.
“Students connect with me because I was one of them,” says Damon Clayborne, ESL teacher and PBIS internal coach at Loess Hills Computer Programming Elementary School. “I can relate to them in many parts of their lives and guide them in the right direction. I build positive relationships with my students, and they trust me.”
After 22 years as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher in the Sioux City Community School District, Damon understands the importance of building relationships. It’s been key for him in the classroom as well as in his experience coaching football, baseball, and wrestling in the District.
Damon has also found that expectations help set the tone for mutual respect between him and his students.
“When students are following expectations, I let them know. When they do not follow the rules, I also let them know, because each student knows I won’t hold that against them or judge them. They get a clean slate each and every day. It builds good mutual respect between each other,” adds Damon.
A native of Sioux City, Damon attended Sioux City Community Schools, attending Bryant Elementary School and Hoover Middle School before graduating from North High School. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Briar Cliff University and a master’s degree from Southwest Minnesota State University.
When he is not connecting with Loess Hills students at school, Damon is cheering on his boys, sons Deion, Kobe, and Kason, at their many sporting events along with his wife Tiffany. It is also not unusual for Damon to run into former students at these events, one of the most rewarding aspects of his work as an ELL teacher.
“I take a lot of pride in seeing my former students out in public, talking about their progress and how they have succeeded,” says Damon. “Just knowing I might have had a little part in helping them grow into a positive citizen in our community is one of the best parts of my job.”