They don’t wear capes and they may not be from outer space, millionaires or the product of a lab experiment, but they do have superpowers.
These incredible human beings are our teachers.
It may not be all that exciting, stuck with them for eight hours a day in school, but as students we sometimes forget that our teachers do crazy and ridiculous things on a daily basis, all for us.
Over the past few days, I have been able to exchange emails with a few of Hall County students’ favorite teachers. What they said was often surprising and changed the way I thought about being a student. I hope it does the same for you.
Each teacher had different responses to me, but throughout all the interviews, several recurring themes were present in their responses.
They were chosen.
Either by someone in their lives or by circumstances guiding them, the teaching profession became their passion day in and day out, even over the summer.
It is a labor of love for a group of people many find incredibly hard to deal with — teenagers. (Admit it, even us teenagers find teenagers tiring to be around after a while.)
Being able to see each teacher’s response to the question “How do you see your students?” sheds a whole new light on how valued we are as students.
“...I see my students as people who are a few years behind me in their life's journey... My students are the future, and it is fun to imagine what that will look like for each of them.” Ms. Wiggs, West Hall High Sschool
“As imperfect humans, just like me. (With a smiley face)” Mrs. Hansen, Flowery Branch High School
“As unlimited potential.” Mr. John Hardison, East Hall High School
“I see my students as young people trying to fit in and find their place in the world. They need positive role models ...additionally, positive encouragement and real world experiences.” Sra. Falcon, Johnson High School
“As our future. And as total hot messes that need our help, but we can learn so much from them.” Mrs. Nonnemaker, Flowery Branch
What an encouragement, to know that a person in our everyday lives care that much.
They make sacrifices for our benefit — coming to school early to meet with students for tutoring, staying late for make-up tests or facilitating club meetings.
Many teachers work hard, beyond what is easiest for them so a student can get the most out of a lesson.
Mrs. Hansen, a literature teacher at Flowery Branch, said “I try to teach in different ways to allow for various learning styles and speeds.”
Of course, all teachers are different.
“ ...A song in the head keeps the heart happy” — a sort of catchphrase for Mr. Scheman of Chestatee, is his explanation for why he sings so often, keeping his classes interested and on their toes.
At East Hall, students are always buzzing about the newest, most exciting project for Mr. Hardison’s class in Studio 113, whether they got to use the recording studio or incorporate something they are passionate about into their presentation, with the encouraging approval of their beloved instructor.
However, not every instructor is going to be legendary. And that’s OK.
“We are not a $100 bill and not everyone is going to love us.” Sra. Falcon, Spanish teacher at Johnson High School said. “As a teacher, it is very difficult to find or possess one universal trait that will appeal to all learners. This is why it is crucial to listen to everyone’s thoughts, opinions without judging or interrupting.”
Not every student will “click” with every teacher, and it is perfectly OK, but as Sra. Falcon put it, therein lies the importance of being respectful and open to others. It’s good to find a teacher whom you're able to bond with and build that relationship.
Such a connection is useful not only for teacher recommendations for clubs, activities and college applications but for a source of wisdom in the upcoming years of entering a higher level of academic challenges.
We know it is important to be open toward others among our peer group, but in regards to our teachers as well.
Founder of Studio 113, blended learning experience at East Hall, Mr. Hardison told me “Education is reciprocal. Students give back what they receive. Respect, care, belief, positivity, creativity and energy are always returned … maybe not immediately. Some quicker than others, but they are returned.”
Mr. Hardison spoke from his perspective as a teacher, but following his train of thought, how revolutionary would it be if students took the lead in this act.
Our teachers are humans too, who need a smile on bad days — all of us have the ability to bring positivity to a situation, so why not apply that ability? Who knows, one small act could rekindle a passion for changing the next generation.
Though it may seem odd to bring a smile to a teacher, it definitely works. Drama teacher at Flowery Branch, Mrs. Nonnemaker said the reason she keeps going even on her bad days is “the kids and how much they make me laugh.”
Teachers are the heroes, not the supervillians, even if it may seem that way when there is a mountain of work sometimes.
Mrs. Wiggs summed up what she hoped to inspire her students to remember, that “even in the face of loss, tragedy or other difficulties, life goes on — and can still be good!”
These people have the incredible power to push us to something better, be personal cheerleaders and show us life paths we may never have thought available to us, all while being patient class period after class period.
They are in our lives to help mold us students into intelligent, thoughtful and well-informed individuals, ready to face the world once we graduate.
A heartfelt thank you to all the teachers of Hall County who have and are continuing to make a difference in my life and the lives of so many students like myself.