KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An American history teacher by day and celebrity by night. That’s what Kayla McClellan’s students think of her after Thursday night’s Chiefs game.
“They keep coming up to me saying, ‘Oh my God! You’re a celebrity.’ I’m like, ‘I’m actually just a teacher.’”
The Lincoln Prep educator is only 30 years old but has already received widespread recognition for her work.
In 2022, she won Teacher of the Year for Lincoln Prep and then again for the entire Kansas City Public Schools District. From there, McClellan won Teacher of the Year for all of the Kansas City region, which caught the attention of the Chiefs.
The Hunt family created a new award called the “Norma Hunt Super Bowl Champion of Education” award for the late matriarch.
Hunt graduated from North Texas State University in Denton (now known as The University of North Texas) with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1960.
After college, Hunt taught American history at Richardson High School in Dallas. The Hunt family created the award to give to a local female educator who was doing work Norma would be proud of, and McClellan fit the bill to a tee.
“I was just blown away they thought I’d be that person,” added McClellan, who first got the phone call from the Chiefs organization only a few days ago. “They were saying, ‘We want to honor you on the field. All you have to do is stand there, wave, and smile.’ I said, ‘OK!'”
However, the team had a few tricks up their sleeve, which McClellan only found out about when she stepped onto the field. Her mom watched from the sidelines as Clark Hunt presented her daughter with the award along with two tickets to the next Super Bowl in Las Vegas.
“That’s when the tears started. I was crying on all of the pictures that are out there,” she said.
From there, McClellan got to spend time inside the Hunt family suite, which came with some of the best food Kansas City has to offer, added McClellan.
“Everybody was just so nice, and the food was delicious. The best chicken strips in town, and I told Mr. Hunt that,” she said.
She then watched the game from the stands with her mother and cousin.
The experience is a full-circle moment for the educator, who used to be a student at Lincoln Prep before teaching there but explained she was demitted from the college preparatory academy due to her behavior and academics.
It’s when she got to college that she took her education seriously and obtained a master’s degree.
“Coming back to teach here as an adult has been such a full circle moment, and my mom has always been my champion. [My experience] helps me to relate to the kids and just be like, ‘Hey, get it together because I know the other side of this, but then also let me help you.’ You got it,” she said.
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Her next big move is figuring out who to invite to the Super Bowl in five months. Less than 24 hours after getting the tickets, she said a lot of people had reached out.