55 IGNITED: All I Learned From WV Public Schools

With the second teacher strike and the education battle happening right now, West Virginia teachers have been greatly criticized. Some believe their intentions are to benefit themselves and not their students, and that may true for a portion of them. I've had a few teachers who didn't seem to care as much as others, but the majority of them cared more than they probably should've. I've been reflecting on my high school experience in West Virginia public schools recently, and what I've realized is I got really lucky.

My high school teachers were genuinely invested in the education and success of their students. They hunted down kids for weeks reminding them to turn in past-due assignments for half credit. They took time to explain concepts, formulas and rules individually, to make sure each student truly understood the content. They genuinely wanted everyone to graduate and took it upon themselves to do everything they could to make that happen.

At Saint Albans High School, I discovered and developed my passions. I also discovered my hatred for algebra, but that didn't stop my math teachers from making sure I understood the lessons– even if I was no longer in their specific classes. If I was struggling with a formula or equation, I asked my math teachers from previous years and they always helped me.

All of my teachers were extremely supportive, inside and outside of academia. I played soccer for my school and my teachers came to games to cheer us on, congratulated us when they saw us at school and wished us luck on game day. One of my history teachers came to practice one day and played fox tails with us, he almost won too!

Someone who really sticks out to me as being extremely invested in my success is my high school guidance counselor. I remember scheduling my classes with her, she always tried to tailor my schedule to me. Taking time to make sure I was taking classes that I not only needed to graduate but also that interested me. We discussed college many times during our meetings and when I got accepted to WVU, she was so excited. I remember stopping by her office one day to just to tell her that I got the Promise Scholarship, and she did a victory dance.

I had many teachers and administrators throughout my high school experience who taught me that when you need help you should ask for it. I learned so much more than math, English and history from my educators. I watched them demonstrate compassion and patience to students who were disrespectful in the classroom. I watched them teach passionately about topics they truly cared about and listened to them encourage us to be passionate about something as well. My teachers took on extracurricular activities such as the prom committee and sacrificed time with their families to give seniors an amazing last school year.

My teachers taught me the curriculum required of them, they made sure I was prepared for standardized testing and the ACT, they took it upon themselves to make sure I felt comfortable in class and understood the lessons. But most importantly, they taught me to believe in myself. As cliche as it sounds, I wouldn't be who I am, or where I am, without the amazing educators who helped me get here.

I'll always be proud to be a SAHS alumni, and to all my past teachers and administrators, if you ever read this, thank you.

Once a Dragon, always a Dragon.