YHS student wins second place at national Educators Rising competition in Washington D.C.

Taliah Boyd was the runner-up in the job interview category


Yelm High School senior Taliah Boyd made the most of her trip to Washington D.C. for the 2024 Educators Rising National Conference, June 28 to July 1. Boyd earned second place in the nation in the job interview category at the conference.

Boyd traveled with fellow YHS students Glennah Wofford, Bailie Fowler and Kiana Neir, as well as Educators Rising teacher Hillary Hull. Wofford and Fowler competed in the children’s literature category, while Neir competed in the Educators Rising moment speech competition. 

Boyd’s mock interview was for a paraprofessional position, and she was prompted to present a resumé and cover letter and answer interview questions from two interviewers. 

“When I walked in, I was nervous, but I was mostly excited because I practiced and worked really hard. They were so nice and had big smiles on their faces, so that made it a calming environment,” she said.

Boyd, who dreams of becoming a special education teacher, was asked about how she would set up her classroom, handle diversity, develop relationships with students and the teacher, as well as explain how she had dealt with a challenge or a hardship in her life. She was judged on how she answered the questions, down to the eye contact and the depth of answers, as well as the questions that she asked the interviewers.

In her cover letter, she explained what she had to offer as a person, displaying her resilience, adaptability, work ethic and experience working with children through the Educators Rising class at YHS.

She had to wait nearly 48 hours to find out where she placed in the competition. While that time was spent connecting with and learning from educators at the conference and touring the nation’s capital, Boyd was anxious to learn how she did.

“I honestly wasn’t expecting much because this was the first time I’ve ever competed in this, and I felt like I did my best,” she said. “When I walked out of the interview, I was really happy. I was smiling because I thought that it went well. I spoke from the heart about how much I loved special education and a little bit about my life.”

When Boyd saw her name among the 10 in the semifinals, she was shocked. She was even more shocked upon seeing her name in second place. She took home a certificate and a medal.

“The girls all worked so hard, and everyone was so nice there. We worked hard, and Mrs. Hull was definitely a great help,” Boyd said. “It was so important to me to receive the chance to go to nationals, and representing Yelm was so incredible. Being successful in it helps me realize that what I’m doing is for a purpose. Taking this class and doing these interviews was all worth it, and it’s going to help set me up for future career interviews.”

The four students networked with over 4,000 students from across the country who all have a passion for education. They attended a series of breakout sessions that helped further develop their interest in teaching. Students also connected with other students in Washington state, including from Renton School District and Central Washington University.

Boyd said the students heard different opinions on becoming a teacher and types of learning during the conference, as well as ways to represent themselves and run a classroom.

“We listened to the national teacher of the year speak about her experience as a teacher and what she did to make sure that all her students felt welcomed,” she said. “I learned a lot about being the best teacher I can be, as well as being a really good person and making sure that you make everyone around you feel safe and welcomed.

Together, the team also competed in a lip sync battle, where it won the title of “most energetic.” The students performed “Get’cha Head in the Game” from “High School Musical” and earned a trophy for their choreography.

“The lip sync battle was absolutely amazing. We just gave it our all. We had an entire dance choreographed to that, and when they announced the awards, they gave us our trophy and we were so excited,” Boyd said. “Everyone kept stopping us to say, ‘Yours was so good. You guys did amazing. It was so much fun to watch.’ It was definitely a really fun team-building moment.”

Other highlights of the tour included exploring Washington D.C. on a tour bus. The students saw the Lincoln Memorial, the U.S. Capitol building, the White House, Georgetown University and museums, among other landmarks.