Aris­totle teaches Alexander the Great
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Pan­elists dis­cussed the joys and chal­lenges of one of the most exhausting, important, and rewarding jobs in their eyes, teaching, during a clas­sical edu­cation infor­mation lunch on March 28th.

“It’s just such an exciting thing to do as a teacher, to come alongside. I almost feel like telling parents ‘I got your back.” To come alongside them during that infor­mative time is just beau­tiful,” said Yvette Adele, fourth grade teacher at Ascent Clas­sical Academy in Lone Tree, Colorado. 

Teachers, head­masters, and advisors for clas­sical christian or charter schools from across the country traveled to Hillsdale to advise stu­dents con­sid­ering a career in education. 

Career Ser­vices orga­nized this panel, titled, “Teaching History and Civics: K‑12 Education.” 

Jordan Adams, civic edu­cation spe­cialist from Hillsdale College K‑12 Edu­cation Office, led the discussion.

Speakers covered a wide range of topics, from the impor­tance of clas­sical edu­cation and the sig­nif­i­cance of strong history cur­ricula to prac­tical tips and first-year struggles for all teachers.

Maegen Satcher, dean of aca­d­emics at St. John’s Clas­sical Academy in Fleming Island, Florida, said history, espe­cially in early edu­cation, teaches children through true stories, pro­viding real examples of people who may become role models for them. 

“We want to give them some great Amer­icans to look up to,” Satcher said. “We want them to start thinking, ‘What does goodness look like?’” 

Ali Pries, who teaches fourth grade at Golden View Clas­sical Academy in Golden, Col­orado said stu­dents of all ages ask ques­tions such as ‘Who am I? What am I doing? What is my place?’

“I imme­di­ately fell in love with teaching history because it helped answer these ques­tions,’” Pries said. “History gives you a place in this time right now. You see the pages that have passed. You find your place in the present age, and you see what the pages can be that you can make in the future.” 

Betsy Helton, assistant head­master of the grammar school at Seven Oaks Clas­sical School in Ellettsville, Indiana shared a story of one of her stu­dents who repeated her class, but was still eager to learn the history stories again. 

“He couldn’t wait to be there,” Helton said. “He said, ‘I want to hear these stories again! They were the best stories I’ve ever heard in my life!’” 

The pan­elists also empha­sized the cul­ti­vation of virtue in their stu­dents and the way this devel­opment set them apart from stu­dents in other schools. 

Helton shared the joy of influ­encing the lives of her students. 

“You know that you are con­tributing to their lives in a pro­found way that’s sep­a­rating them from their peers,” Helton said. “You are cre­ating some young people that can carry the torch, that can rec­ognize truth for what it is and adhere to it.” 

Morgan Channels, teacher at Ivywood Clas­sical Academy in Ply­mouth, Michigan, said she has core virtues posted in her classroom to engage the stu­dents in all dis­cus­sions, com­paring acts in history with these virtues as well as classroom behavior. 

The pan­elists named several qual­ities present in great teachers. Carin Harner, third grade teacher at Hillsdale Academy, said teachers never stop learning. 

“Even though you’re the one teaching the infor­mation, you have to still be excited about learning because there’s always some­thing you can learn,” Harner said. “Whether it’s the actual aca­demic knowledge, or issues related to behavior, or helping a spe­cific child who is behind — there’s always some­thing you can be learning. You cannot get stale. You have to be excited about it.” 

Pries added to Harner’s words by empha­sizing the impor­tance of the teacher demon­strating a vir­tuous life. 

“Stu­dents can see right through someone who’s not genuine or authentic,” Pries said. “You have to be able to model for them your wins and your failures. They can sense it. I think the pursuit of learning, def­i­nitely, but also the daily practice of virtues of the heart is truly important.”

Helton empha­sized the great role teachers have of influ­encing their stu­dents for the rest of their lives. 

“You can’t feign com­passion. If you don’t gen­uinely love these children, then there’s going to be a dis­connect,” Helton said. “Remember this though: ‘The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.’ If you are gen­uinely inter­ested in impacting the world, they may not remember you, but you will have impacted them in a pro­found way.”