This week’s Teacher Feature is Becky Mann. I worked with her many years ago at Wren High School and she was awesome. The teachers and the students loved her. One year she even invited my special ed students to share the bus with her group on a field trip. Becky Mann always went above and beyond what was expected and everyone knew how much cared for the students and their families. So, I thought what better way to have you get to know her than to interview her for this teacher feature!
1. What is your official title(s) and what services do you provide?
I am a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Wren High School in Anderson District 1 - South Carolina. I am a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Educator. Classes I teach include Family Life Relationships, Family Life Management, Child Development, Parenthood Education and Housing and Interior Design. In the Child Development and Parenthood classes I also run a Mother's Morning Out Day Care with students as the teachers learning about a child's growth and development....so I teach 9th through 12 grades plus 3 and 4 year olds! I am the Adviser for the Wren Homemaker Club, an adult community club that meets once a month at the high school, and am also the Adviser of the Serteen Club (160 student members!) whose focus is community service. I love every minute of being a Wren High Hurricane!!!
2. Would you describe your school setting?
We are a rural high school in the Upstate area of South Carolina where three counties, Picken's, Greenville and Anderson, meet, . We are considered a bedroom community because people love living in the Wren area where community is important and yards are large-- but family members go into Greenville or Anderson for their work. We have a population of around 1100 students which are across all socio-economic groups. It is a wonderful part of the state to live and work
3. How long have you been teaching?
I have been in Anderson District 1 at Wren for 28 years - before that I worked 8 years in Greenville County but not with just one school.
4. What ages/grades/subject did you teach prior to this current assignment?
Before becoming a part of the Wren High School Family, I was a School Food Service Supervisor with the Greenville County school district. I did administrative reviews and processed free and reduced reimbursements for 30 schools in the North Greenville and Taylor's area. I also had the responsibility of allocating government commodities to all the schools (90 at the time) in the Greenville school district. One summer I taught for the State Department of Education in the SIFT program (Skills Improvement in Food Service Techniques) where I was able to travel and see and meet many of the school food service managers across the state. I even got to do one ETV program for the state.
5. What inspired you to become a teacher?
I loved being an aunt and working with my nieces and nephews as they were grew up. I believe that gave me a love for working with young people. I also adored my Home Economics classes in high school. My teacher was enthusiastic and loved her profession and I learned so much. I took housing in high school and drew and designed the home I live in currently based on skills I learned in high school - before I started teaching at Wren High! The subject matter was pertinent for life on my own and for my future family. I was always a very family oriented individual so when I was in my second year of college and they said "You need to declare a major....." and I was finally at the turning point of REALLY deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up-- I was indecisive. The Home Economics Department was having an open house that night and some of my friends went with me to the presentation. They sold me- and them and we all became "Home Ec" Majors! Today my profession is called Family and Consumer Sciences. I knew I was at home because it was a profession that had so many options and avenues (Dietetics, Family Support Counseling, Extension, Food Service, Textiles, Nutrition, Child Growth and Development, Housing and Design, Fashion) but I could also teach!
6. What is the best thing that a student has ever said to you?
The best thing a student said to me, and it has been said often, is that they want to take my place when I retire! They begin to fall in love with the subject and see the value to families in all we do in our classes. It makes me happy that students want to follow in my footsteps and carry on the Family and Consumer Sciences profession when so many schools are letting those programs go.
7. What do you feel is the most difficult thing about teaching?
The most difficult thing about teaching today is seeing so many students NOT have the close family support and relationships I grew up with. There are so many high school students that seem to have to grow up so early and become the adult in the household. Some of this occurs because of families working and not being able to stay at home, but the other is families who are so dysfunctional. I worry about technology: computers, phones, social media, TV, Netflix, video games, etc pulling families apart. I know these can be used to bring us closer, but too often I see the opposite. We are missing face time with our children! It saddens me that we are having more screen time with a machine than face time with our children-- Kids need to know they are valued, they are encouraged, they are praised and they are loved. I worry whether this is falling behind all the technology....
8. What do you feel is the best thing about teaching?
MY STUDENTS! I love to laugh and there is not a day that goes by that at least one student has me in stitches by the end of the day. I adore the give and take of the teacher, students relationship, the rapport. My students love life and have such a different perspective than this 59-year-old woman! I love it when they understand, when they are engaged, when they question me and probe for deeper information. This is when I fully know they are "Getting It” and that makes my heart happy!
9. What is the biggest issue in education that you wish the state or federal government would address and why?
I am deeply concerned about the voucher system and what that will do to public education. I understand the voucher system and what it can offer, but it worries me what will happen to the kids who are left with public education. Will public education get the funds needed to provide for all the kids that cannot be transported to areas where there are private schools? We have a new National Education Director, Betsy DeVos, and I am concerned that she may not view the education system with the same appreciation of what public education can offer. We need public education! I am a product of it and have based my entire career on not just teaching but reaching all students - - the rich and the poor, the gifted and the special needs students. I believe we need to be together in schools, to learn to appreciate the differences and the similarities that we all have. We need to learn beside all socio-economic diversified groups so that we can better accept and understand that many of our differences can actually make us stronger if we just open our hearts, minds and accept each other.
10. What piece of advice would you give to a new teacher just starting out in their career?
1) It's ok to cry and wonder if what you are doing is making a difference. I promise you are-- if your heart is in the right place and you care for the children. 2) Listen to your students--they will teach you so much as you teach them. 3) You will not know EVERYTHING. Let the students work with you to research answers. 4) Be a role model they can look up to - do right, treat the kids with respect and they will model YOUR behavior back. 5) Let them know you care and you are continually creating a safe place for them.
11. If money was no object, what would you want for your school to help the students you serve be more successful?
1) Scholarships for students who may not have the highest grades, the top SAT scores, but have the most desire to achieve. 2) More work study programs for the upper grades where students can go into the work force to see it up close and "test the waters" of a career.
12. If you could have anybody in the world visit your school (alive or dead), who would it be?
Maya Angelo....I love her story! As a 16 year old in high school becoming a mother and how her mother was there for her, loving and accepting her and loving her through the trials and tribulation....I would love for parents and for kids to hear about her life and her experiences, listen to her words and hear her heart. I am so sorry she has passed but I cherish her quote: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Maya Angelo
If you know of any teacher that deserves to have the spotlight shine on them, please let me know! Just email me their contact information and I will get in touch with them! Thanks!