Fifth grade teacher Alexa Guynes starts every day reading a picture book aloud, and her students at Dogwood Elementary in Germantown, Tennessee, gather around as Guynes shares stories. Picture books might seem too simple for tweens, but the discussions are reflective and analytical: What does this item symbolize? What can this person teach us? The daily story time makes the classroom feel supportive, nurturing and homey, and students love it. Last year Guynes and her class read 180 books, ending with “A Letter From Your Teacher” by Shannon Olsen, an emotional sendoff to middle school with parents in attendance. The read-aloud “Book a Day” project has been so successful that Guynes and her colleagues secured a grant to expand it at Dogwood and other schools in the district.
Guynes brings lessons to life, fully engaging every student. At the end of a unit on athlete Jackie Robinson, the entire class dressed in team uniforms and headed outside for a game of baseball. Everyone dons lab coats and goggles for experiments on Mad Scientist Day. For an end-of-year project, students choose someone who broke barriers or made a difference in the world, then make posters and present their heroes’ stories. During Guynes’ literary take on basketball’s March Madness tournament, students read a varied group of books, then vote for their favorites as they watch the competition unfold on a huge poster on the wall. The Guynes Grizzlies (named for the teacher’s favorite team, the Memphis Grizzlies) focus on building writing skills in class, lining the halls with their illustrated narratives. The class breaks into small groups to discuss texts, and students know they need to cite evidence and back up their answers and assertions.
Guynes chairs Dogwood’s fifth grade team and is the ELA content lead for third, fourth and fifth grades. She helped the school implement its new ELA curriculum, pacing the fifth grade curriculum and enhancing lessons with strategies and activities designed to promote interaction. Guynes mentors student teachers and has served on Dogwood’s school leadership, SEL, professional development and ELA textbook selection committees. During the pandemic Guynes met with students daily on Zoom; the strong connections she had built in the classroom kept students on track and minimized their learning interruptions.
Guynes is determined to mold students into well-rounded individuals and inspire them to change the world. She led four dozen students, many of whom had never been away from home before, on a tour of Washington, D.C., teaching them how to order at restaurants and handle money alongside visits to museums and national monuments. Guynes keeps families involved in their children’s learning, inviting them to volunteer in the classroom and communicating regularly via Schoology. Parents connect with Guynes long after their children have left Dogwood to share their academic and social successes.
Guynes is a graduate of Mississippi State University and holds a bachelor’s (2012) and master’s (2014) in elementary education.
"Having a classroom family centered around literacy is..." (read more)
WKNO-TV | PBS | Apr 21, 2023 | Cordova, TN
cityCURRENT | Feb 06, 2023 | Memphis, TN
Mississippi State University | Dec 13, 2022 | Starkville, MS
WATN-TV | WLMT-TV | ABC / CW | Nov 17, 2022 | Memphis, TN
Commercial Appeal | USA Today | Nov 17, 2022 | Memphis, TN
The Daily Memphian | Nov 17, 2022 | Memphis, TN
2022 Instructional Leadership Licensure, Bethel University
2014 M.S., Elementary Education, Mississipi State University
2012 B.S., Elementary Education, Mississipi State University