Video By Navtej Singh
“So where do you want me to start the story?” said Miss Love who is a High School English teacher at Eastbrook Academy. She has been teaching at EBA for two years. She shares with us some of her stories, advice for students, and her views on teaching.
LOVE: The hardest question for me to answer when people are mingling and doing small talk stuff is ‘where are you from?’ and that's a pretty easy one for most people to answer, but for me I don’t know. I was born in Michigan, but before I was a year old, we moved to Pennsylvania (Amish Country) so right across from our church was a farm. And then when I was 11 we moved from there to Metro, Atlanta which is a little different from farm country and I was there until I graduated from high school. I actually lived in Wisconsin when I was in college. Then I moved to North Carolina right out of college and taught at 3 different schools there, which all of them were very different. And then from there, I moved to China and after three years I moved here. Because of Covid I was laid off, I taught at an international school and international schools are only allowed to have international students. So technically, no Chinese students were at our school *whispers (There were Chinese Students at our school)* So because of Covid with closing down the International Borders we didn't have a very high enrollment officially. At the time I mentioned it to my brother that I was moving back, he mentioned it to his Assistant Pastor whose kids go here. They then mentioned to come to EBA and they needed an English teacher.
MARSHALL: Why do you teach or what drew you to teaching?
Well, I did not plan on teaching high school. I had very boring English classes in high school, and really did not enjoy English at all. But I had a very good math teacher and a very good history teacher. The math teacher very patiently waited before and after school for anyone, even students who weren’t in his classes to help them with math. I didn’t have him for geometry, but he helped me pass geometry. And the history teacher had such a passion for his field. Every break he would tell us what new thing he was gonna study over the break to help us. He was a master storyteller. So I was planning on being an English Second Language teacher. And I was gonna get my degree and go overseas right away. But in college, I fell in love with teaching English. High school English. Not my plan at all, but I really enjoy it. I really like English because there is a lot I can teach that has nothing to do with a text of literature. There is a lot of character development that is part of reading text. And then ultimately if you cannot read a difficult piece of literature, how can you read the bible and understand it? So to me it is much more than just, can you read this poem that was written a very long time ago? It is much more. Can you read to enhance your life? To enhance your thinking ability? That sort of thing.
MARSHALL: What are some highlights from this or last year?
LOVE: So highlight for last year was when we came back in person because that was when I was meeting students I have been teaching for over a semester so that was kinda cool. Like “Oh this is the person I’ve been talking at!” And then definitely a highlight for this year is getting to see your faces. Which also is a pretty cool one. Through all of the last couple years I’ve been looking for what I’ve been calling “Glimmers of Light.” When we went online in China, it was very easy to be overwhelmed by all of the not positive things happening. So for an example of a “Glimmer of Light” yesterday, the sophomores' English class grappled with some rather difficult material and they did very well. So maybe it wouldn't be a highlight in the grand scheme of things, but it's a small thing that shows me that there is still learning going on, there is still something positive in the midst of a weird school year.
MARSHALL: What do you think is the biggest challenge in teaching?
LOVE: Just one? Teachers tend to become teachers because we do see a need and want to meet it. Because of that it’s very easy for us to buy into what's called the “Messiah Complex” that I am the one that is going to save you from not sin, but ignorance or weakness or challenge, whatever that you are facing. And so it is very easy for us to become kind of consumed in that. It’s very hard for us to let go and recognize, students have the responsibility to learn. My job is really to just give information. An opportunity. The student's responsibility is to take that opportunity and do something with it. If you look through the Bible as well, no profit of God was held responsible for the people’s reaction. He was responsible for whether or not he obeyed what God asked him to do. So I think that it is a big challenge for teachers that we are trying to do the work for you, instead of you taking that work. That can be overwhelming because we are trying to do something… We're not God. We can’t do that.
MARSHALL: Do you believe a personal connection between teachers and students is important?
LOVE: Yes and no. I reference two of my teachers that still have a positive impact on my life, but the geometry teacher that I needed help passing her class, she was still appointed to be my geometry teacher. Not through her decision and my decision, but that's how God planned it out. We are not always going to have chemistry with everybody in our lives. And so part of growing up is learning how to interact with people that we don’t necessarily have that connection with. On another level, if we look at Christ’s example he has 12 apostles, but hundreds of people were following him. He had a close connection with a very small group. If the son of God can’t connect with everybody on that level around him… I’m human. So yes, teachers need to foster a positive relationship with their students, but again to expect that we're going to have a close bond with everyone, that's an unrealistic expectation. I’ve had several hundred students at this point so I enjoy my students while they are in my room. I love hearing from them after they graduate, but that also doesn’t happen with all of them.
MARSHALL: Do you have any advice for students moving forward in a grade level or this year in general?
LOVE: I’ve been thinking about that. It is one of the hardest things to do I think. When I was a student we were preached at all the time about finding God’s will for our life as though it was this mystical road map for everything that was going to happen after we graduated from high school. It was much later that I realized that it was not the best way to view it. It’s do God’s will for you… now. It’s hard. We know God’s will for us today. Love our neighbors, love God, be responsible, be safe, be engaged, be respectful, but it is hard to do that.