Kristy Nyp, a journalism teacher at the high school in Manhattan, Kansas, is the greatest educator I’ve ever had the privilege to learn and grow from. She shaped the way I see the world and encouraged me to form educated, thoughtful opinions. Nyp, as her students lovingly call her, taught me compassion for others in finding compassion for myself. She is the reason I am the person I am today and I will forever be grateful for her influence in my life.
Nyp taught hard work and perseverance in her classroom. She showed commitment to confronting difficulties, and she asked her students to do the same. Nyp knew how I best succeeded and believed in potential beyond what I ever saw in myself. She pushed her students to find their voice in a world that wanted to suppress student journalists and asked us to fight for what we believe in.
On the first day of class, she wrote the First Amendment on the board and asked her students to memorize it. Nyp valued us and wanted us to be heard. She walked us through each line of the Amendment and made sure we understood how to stand up for ourselves. When I stood in front of the class, reciting the First Amendment a week later, I felt empowered. She taught me to speak and take up space in the world. She was someone I could count on to fight for me. She made me feel like I could do anything.
Nyp assigned me as Editor of the school newspaper my senior year and helped develop my skills both as a writer and leader. She asked me to confront tough decisions when it came to running the paper. When I wrote or printed editorials that were sometimes controversial, she allowed me to make the judgment call. Nyp gave each student a voice, no matter where their opinion stood. She wanted us to see the world and learn from it in whatever way we, as individuals, interpreted it.
Nyp asked that as students we think through each article we wanted to print with thoughtful consideration, ultimately giving us the power to believe ourselves. She cared deeply about her class as future professionals and how we saw ourselves outside of the classroom. In giving us the freedom to print an all-student run paper, she taught me the value of listening to others and how to work with those around me.
I spent countless hours in Nyp’s classroom after school was out, talking, making a newspaper, and eating dinner she brought for late nights. She arranged the classroom so it felt safe and gave us named desks to call our own. She created a family among her students, listening to each one of us when life at home or high school drama was just too much to handle. Her kind ear was one I turned to many times, and to this day I cherish the empathy she gave me as I vented and cried across from her desk.
“Sometimes you have a plan, and it doesn’t plan out, but somehow, it always plans out,” became a joke quote between us after hearing it on the news one morning. But the more we laughed about it, the more it applied to our lives and Nyp and I believe that things will indeed plan out, even if the original plan...didn’t plan out. She reminds me of this often when things in life are turned upside down and feel devastating.
The day my dad was dying in the hospital, Nyp was the first person to hug me. Sprawled out on my living room floor, I found myself calling her number when news that my dad's heart had stopped came. As I sat on the floor crying, distressed, and terrified of what was happening, Nyp sat cross-legged next to me and helped make emergency plans and offered comfort. She walked me through the weeks following his death and stepped in as the parent I had lost. Nyp was the hero I needed in that tragedy.
She is a teacher you can rely on. Without Nyp, I don’t know where my strength and confidence would stand today. I am an empowered individual that knows how to speak up, credited largely to her dedication to my learning and care in my life.
Kristy Nyp is the single greatest teacher I know.
Elizabeth J. Logback