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Behind the Wings: A childhood dream to teach fulfilled.

“I always wanted to be a teacher for preschool or kindergarten, so I feel like I’m fulfilling that dream by teaching and training adults,” shares Piedmont American Regional Training Instructor, Kayla Duff. As a child Kayla was very shy and quiet, standing up in front of a class teaching brought her out of her shell.

Kayla Duff was born in West Virginia and raised in NC. She became a Charlotte native at the young age of 13. “When I was 20 years old, I was already working in the airport at HMS Host at one of the retail gift shops. I gained a lot of friends that worked for Piedmont Airlines, they would always try to convince me to come over and work for the airline,” shared Kayla. The constant dedication of her friends paid off one day in 2004 after Kayla finished her shift at the retail shop. “Back then all you had to do was walk in to apply at the old terminal for job openings. I walked in wearing my HMS work uniform, applied for the job, and got hired on the spot!” Kayla didn’t have a driver’s license at the time, so she went to the DMV that weekend to be ready for orientation two weeks later. “I’ve been with Piedmont ever since.”

Kayla worked her way up the ladder since she began working for Piedmont. She started out as a gate agent for nine years, then transitioned to an (OJT) station trainer for eight years, this role provided training for students visiting from corporate. As of December 2021, Kayla elevated to a corporate training regional instructor based in Charlotte, NC.

Kayla took a walk down memory lane as she reminisced on the friends that guided her to joining the Piedmont family. “I am still good friends with the people that encouraged me to join the team. Piedmont is like a family, they watched me grow and played a big part in molding me as an agent,” shared Kayla. “I find a way to make my rounds at the terminal to see everyone that encouraged me to take the leap of faith and try something new.”

Kayla was a single parent with a two-year-old at the start of her Piedmont career. “I didn’t have any family here, so it was rough, but the team poured into me and rallied around me with open arms.” Kayla is now a proud mother of two, an 8-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter in college. “My daughter is a junior studying genetics and ASL (American Sign Language) American Sign Language at UNCG. Kayla’s daughter ended up winning one of the American Airlines scholarships her first year in college for a grant of $3,500. “Seeing my child reap the benefits of the company is a blessing.”

Kayla says being able to show her kids the world with the opportunity to travel and exposing them to experiences she didn’t have growing up is a bonus. “Giving my parents, family and friends the chance to travel adds to the family aspect of the company. I learned something new with each role and the experience made me fall in love more and more with Piedmont,” said Kayla.

Hearing an employee speak highly of their company speaks volumes. “I love what I do, and I don’t feel like I’m coming into work. In my 18 years, I have never hated my job, shared Kayla. “Seeing the light bulb go off while I’m instructing, and my students grasp what I’m teaching them makes me feel accomplished in my role. Watching them flourish in their station with the confidence of being well prepared that’s what gives me satisfaction,” says Kayla.

In 2013, Kayla attended her first leadership meeting and received a glass plaque award for her attendance. “I just come in to do my job, but you never know who is watching,” shared Kayla.

“When I think of Black History Month, I think of the strong black men and women that have paved the way for us. Every month, we are accomplishing things daily throughout the year. To have the month of February dedicated for us, for me, is empowering. This is our time to step up and make things happen for our community,” said Kayla.

“Once you get the airline in your blood, it’s hard to get it out. My heart is full to know that I am making history with Piedmont. To know that Leaders acknowledge my commitment is a reward in itself.”

Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. In honor of Black History Month, Piedmont is proud to recognize our black team members who contribute to the success of the airline and make a difference in their communities.