Summit Daily letters: Summit graduate reflects on an excellent education
August 11, 2017
A product of Summit County schools
As an educator, I have spent many hours for class assignments and professional pursuits delving into school websites, missions, course-offerings, demographic and performance data, and whatever else I can get my hands on. Most recently, I examined my own alma mater.
I was happy to see that Summit schools are committed to innovation and growth and I was pleasantly surprised to see that from what I found, Summit County School District is a place that I am professionally interested in and in which the programs and missions mirror my own educational philosophy. Considering the 12 years I spent as a student at Frisco Elementary, Summit Middle and Summit High, maybe this mirroring isn't actually so surprising.
Mrs. Ritchey taught me how to read and write and always made me feel welcome and capable. Mrs. Birchler fanned the eagerness and curiosity that come with learning as she taught me cursive and about caterpillars. Mr. Hansen wrote and sang songs about the water cycle and showed me the satisfaction and ownership in getting to be a creator in my own learning. I remember the pride of standing in front of something I made at a science fair and in having people listen to me teach them about it and I remember the excitement and independence in getting to research and become an expert on something entirely my own in 5th grade with Mrs. Herwehe's state report — mine was on Maine.
In middle school, I remember the value of getting to express myself through poetry books and the commitment and fulfillment that came along with National History Day projects. Every month when I write my rent check, I remember Young Ameritowne and the autonomy of getting to "spend" my own money and manage the newspaper as editor-in-chief.
High school brought the opportunity to take on leadership roles and explore my interests with journalism, yearbook and more. It allowed me to be excited about my own potential. I simultaneously loved geometry and spanish and history and biology. Because my teachers believed in and encouraged me, I didn't feel as though I had to limit my interests or my possibilities in school or in life. My time in the IB Middle Years Programme and the IB Diploma Programme helped me develop as a critical, globally minded thinker and allowed me to connect the things I was learning across subjects and with the world around me. IB prepared me for college writing and for life thinking.
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Throughout my years in Summit County schools, I had the opportunity to participate, explore and grow. I was able to try my hand at sports I wasn't good at and sports I had never tried; I was able to write and act and create. Being given the chance and the encouragement to try anything gave me the confidence and the interest in doing the same thing in college and in life. From Kindergarten to 12th grade, my teachers commented "pleasure to have in class, talks too much." Despite my difficulties with hand-raising and chit-chat, these same teachers patiently listened to me and empowered me to use my voice, making me feel from a young age that what I had to say mattered (even if it wasn't always at the right time).
When I started college at Boston University I decided to pursue teaching high school social studies because although I had loved so many different subjects and things in my life, I knew that most of all I loved learning and I wanted everyone else to love it too. I wanted — and still want — to teach kids that they can do anything that they want to and to help them figure out how to get there. I knew from experience how much of a difference a caring teacher who believes in you can make. Summit County schools taught me that. I am now getting my master's degree in educational leadership and policy. As I studied teaching, I learned about striking disparities in education and have committed to seeking and creating change. Every student — regardless of any personal or societal factors — deserves an education as good as the one I had.