20210607 Maylee and Ms. Jeanne Gordon. Submitted photo.
20210607 Maylee and Ms. Jeanne Gordon. Submitted photo.

Ms. Gordon: A Lasting Legacy

I could start this article off with talking about all of Ms. Gordon’s positive attributes: the way she changed my life or the hundreds of interactions we have had over the last five years, but I won't. The special thing about Ms. Gordon is that you don’t have to know all of those things to know how incredible she is. Of all the people I have ever talked to, I have never heard a negative thing come out of someone’s mouth about her. Instead of telling you all of the things I admire about her, I will tell you one specific story that stands out in my mind above all the others:

When I was in the eighth grade, we had a field trip called Spring on the Farm. We went to a breeding farm in Edinburg and spent the day teaching little kids about what it was like to live on a farm hundreds of years ago. On that Friday, our last day at the farm, we had some extra time to enjoy ourselves. There were some games set out for us to play. We started taking turns jumping rope. Our teachers started gathering around to watch us. We asked all of our other teachers to jump rope with us, and they all said no. Finally, we asked Ms. Gordon. Without hesitation, she said yes. I can't remember if she did well or not, but I do remember that we all thought it was super cool that she did jump rope with us.

Even though this seems like a silly memory, and I have many more than I could have shared, this one is so special to me. It proved to me that you can be more than just a teacher, and that teachers can have fun. She did it, even if she thought she would humiliate herself, and walked away with a smile and grace. Even if it was outside her comfort zone, she did it for us. More often than not, I learned life lessons from Ms. Gordon while she was just being a human, not solely my teacher. This became especially true when I began cadet teaching with her. I realized just how amazing she is. 

I wish I could convey to everyone reading this how grand of a person she is, but those who know her know that you can't do that. There’s something indescribable about the way she carries herself. She has a caring, kind spirit and a humorous personality. She is the reason I am going to be an educator. She is the inspiration behind my decision to pursue a mathematics teaching degree. Even though she is my teacher and my mentor, Ms. G holds a deeper place in my heart. She has opened her classroom up to me for the last five years. It’s where I go when I need tough love, when good things happen, and when tragic events hit. Our sentimental moments are few and far between, but I know that she always cares. I admire her strength, loving heart, and her ability to teach more than math, while still teaching math. It takes a lot out of a person to teach for nearly 40 years, but that alone is a testimony to the type of person she is. 

Ms. G, I will not ever be able to thank you enough. You have inspired me to become a better person, but more than that, you have helped me get there. You push me out of my comfort zone, provide me with resources to better myself, and encourage me when I feel like a failure. Your impact on me is immeasurable, as it is for many others. I don’t know where life is going to take me, but I promise you that no matter where I go, and no matter what I do, I am going to make you proud. You have been a big part of my high school career, and someone I will never ever forget. Thank you for everything you have done for me, whether it was letting me teach alongside you for the last three years, for the hugs you have given me on my really hard days, or for sharing your sugar cream pie with me. You will always be my role model, not just as an educator, but also as a human being.

Mrs. Tom: Who Lives? Who Dies? Who Tells Your Story?

After being quarantined from Thanksgiving break through finals week this year, I remember walking into Mrs. Tom’s room and being engulfed in a big, momma bear-like hug. Mrs. Tom has taught me a lot. By just being in her classroom, I have grown immensely. And, yes, she is a fantastic teacher, but that isn’t why I consider her one of my favorite teachers. She has an innate ability to care for others, especially her students. 

We haven’t always gotten along. As a stubborn seventh grader, I would often struggle with the fact that she was the first teacher that would call me out when I didn’t do my best. She never let me get by with a mediocre assignment. She was determined that I was going to do my best on everything that I did. As a junior in high school, she held me accountable. But as a senior, she has taken on an entirely new role in my life. I don’t think there is just one word to describe said role, so I’ll describe it to you. When I have bad days, I go to her room. When I need a project to distract me from the craziness of senior year, I go to her. As hard as it was for me to accept that she was going to push me to my limits to make me a better person, I’m so glad that she has. 

Mrs. Tom stops at nothing to make Hauser a better school, and a more positive environment, especially during Covid times. Even though she isn’t from the area, she has made Hauser feel more like home for us. More often than not, she spends early mornings and late nights at the school, away from her family, trying to make school more bearable and engaging for her students. She creates fun projects, entertaining games, and assignments that will help us understand the curriculum better. On top of all of this, she is the sponsor for Student Council, helps with our Youth Leadership team, and is her department head. She makes learning fun and easy, which can be quite an exhausting task with eighth graders. 

Earlier this semester, she helped the Student Council put on the “Hauser Games,” a series of competitions for the staff to compete in for student entertainment. She gave our council control to do what we felt would be best for the student body, and would help keep them engaged. My point in including this is that she prepares her students for the future. She is readying us for the next step in life and helping us become young adults. I have never felt silenced or overlooked in her classroom. She gives everyone an equal chance to be heard. 

I can't imagine my life without Mrs. Tom. As I grow older, I have come to appreciate her more. She has shown me tough love more times than I can remember. Many of my positive high school memories revolve around experiences she engineered, whether it was breakout boxes, the Hauser Games, or being “kidnapped” by her eighth period and watching her silly string Foug’s students who tried to come retrieve me. Mrs. Tom did an amazing job as my social studies teacher, but she has done an even better job at teaching me how to be a good person. She has brought so much joy to my life and instilled a work ethic in me that I utilize every time I do anything. Above all, she has made me feel loved, cared for, and special. I know that when I talk to her, she is genuinely listening. She motivates me to be better each day, even when it's hard. I don’t know where I would be without her.

Thank you, Mrs. Tom.

Ms. Fougerousse: The Terrific Three

I first met Foug when I was a tenth grader. Right from the get-go, I decided that I was going to make her like me. While her strong personality, harsh tone, and high expectations intimidated everyone else, I took it upon myself to build a relationship with her. So, I wore a flowy, hippie-inspired skirt the second day of school, because that’s what she had worn the day prior. I’m still not sure what it was about her that intrigued 14-year-old me, but right away I admired her. As my tenth-grade year progressed, our class began to form a relationship with Foug, and we saw a softer side of her. 

As a junior in high school, I took Advanced Placement Literature with her, and my relationship with her began to blossom on a more personal level. I have spent a lot of time in her classroom over the last three years, but this year has been quite different. After Sarah Taylor passed away, I spent nearly half of my day with Foug. Although she isn’t the type of person to give me hugs or tell me everything is going to be okay, there is never a doubt in my mind that she cares. On days when I don’t think it's possible to make it through the day, she gives me chocolate, a coloring book, and a secure space to heal. When I talk to people about Foug, I tell them she’s like my big sister. She’s someone I look up to, my rock when things get tough, but she also isn’t afraid to tell me how it is. 

The special thing about Foug is her ability to make you think. When you think you are already deep with your analysis, she takes it to a whole new level. She encourages you to understand the world from someone else’s perspective and to recognize how well off you are. She tells you how it is. As long as you do your part, you are guaranteed to learn something. She puts a unique twist on education and makes it attainable for everyone. Nobody walks away from English 10, AP Lit, or AP Lang without learning something new. 

Foug has taught me more than any other teacher I have ever had. I learned how to write better, about different cultures, and I have a deeper understanding of the world around me. She teaches kindness, grace, and love. Above all, she has taught me to look at a situation with confidence, humility, and compassion. When I don’t understand a situation, she encourages me to step back and view it with new eyes. She has inspired me to tackle everything in life with the attitude that I am going to succeed and to understand and accept other cultures. 

Foug has given me a new outlook on life. She has definitely impacted me more than she will ever know. She has instilled a fight in me that I will carry with me throughout my whole life. I will never forget the countless hours spent in her room crying, dancing, singing, reciting poems, annotating book passages, and laughing until my sides hurt. I will forever be grateful for the wise words, chocolate, coloring pages, and fashion inspiration. She has spoken love, kindness, strength, and joy into my life. 

In honor of my three years with Foug, here are my three favorite Fougisms:
1. “We are making a freaking circle.”
2. “Maylee remembers everything I have ever taught her.”
3. “Did I use (enter slang term here) correctly?”