Letter: These teachers are real people, not names to cross off

To the Editor:

In one year I will graduate Ridgefield High School. I will walk down the white, painted hallways, filled with the sonorous, buzzing of excited students as they travel to their classes, and reflect on what Ridgefield High School’s Mission Statement has aimed to teach me: “To cultivate a highly engaging and personalized learning environment that encourages individual growth, resilience, citizenship, and empathy.”

Out of this mission statement, I bring attention to the following line: “To cultivate a highly engaging and personalized learning environment.”

When I arrived as a freshman to Ridgefield High School on my first day, I was terrified — the upperclassman I passed in the halls were intimidating and the people in my classes, some of whom I had never met, threw me off my guard. I was no longer in an environment surrounded by familiar peers; the comfort and trust I once felt in my previous school had vanished.

However, a few weeks into the school year, I found comfort in one class: my English class. Every morning, I would saunter down the second G-Wing floor, with a chocolate-chip muffin in my hand, and arrive at my English classroom, eager to learn. My English class was where I found myself actively participating in an engaging and personalized learning environment — it was the class where my teacher helped me find my own educational voice.

Today, I still say hello to my freshman English teacher when I pass her in the hallways.

Last school year, I was introduced to a new teacher at Ridgefield High School. The first day of school, my classmates and I were handed an article to annotate and later discuss. It was the first day of school and my teacher had given us a four page article to annotate; it was quite an impression, to say the least. But during the course of the year, I listened to my teacher instruct concepts and ideas I had never grasped before: the significance of foils, the paradoxes intertwined in novels, the prevalence of the “hero’s archetype.”

My respect for her increased every day. She was brilliant. Each writing conference I had with her, she helped me strengthen my writing. To this day, I can never be more thankful for the hours spent inside and outside the class with her. She became someone I trusted and sought out when I needed help — she made my education feel personalized.

As for my current English teacher, there are no words I can express that would give credit to how valuable a person she is in my life: she is one of the most loyal people I know, a profound leader and instructor in the class, and a humorous, contributing member of our school. She is my friend. Because of the time I have been given to discuss with her, she has influenced me not only as a student, but as a civilian in our society.

To demand that the English staff teach five classes, and to take away their free periods, is a detriment to students’ learning education. These teachers push you to be able to define yourself on paper. The time the instructors have to sit down and help us is imperative to our future; they contribute to whether a college will accept us based on our writing. These teachers are real people, not just names on a sheet to dismiss.

The Board of Education are living in the elusive lie where they feel that by providing elementary students with technology, it will strengthen their learning experience. They are wrong. As John Keating once said, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.” I implore to the Board of Education: give students the opportunity and time to find words and ideas. Let us change the world.

Audrey Porter

Ridgefield High School, Class of 2019