NPJ Teacher Feature: Joan Buswell

By Holly Penta

For Joan Buswell, librarian at Lakeview High School, teaching is not a job, it’s her life. She’s spent 34 years working in Natchitoches Parish Schools as a secretary, teacher, librarian, and the sponsor of extra-curricular activities like Beta Club and a book club.

Buswell holds students in the Beta Club to an incredibly high standard, she is “unwavering about the rules” and expects students to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and a clean discipline record. Because of this, the students have learned the value of character, academics, and leadership, all while helping the community at the same time.

On the other hand, the Book Club is more student lead, with their interests in books influencing which new books are ordered for the library. Despite her preferences for mystery or romance novels, she is open to science fiction and utopia like the kids like, since she wants to always offer the books that encourage them to read.

She is always encouraging her students to get involved in their own education by teaching hands-on lessons, asking them to reteach her lessons to their fellow students in the form of presentations, and fostering their love of reading and writing. In fact, one of her most rewarding job experiences was when a poetry-loving student got his first poem published.

“The smile on his face when he showed me that the first poem in the book was his was the biggest reward a teacher could ever receive,” she said.

Though she wants her students to love reading, she also acknowledges a more practical side to it. She knows that reading is becoming more and more prevalent in standardized testing, so she hopes that the students’ love and better comprehension of reading can also help to improve their academics. This year, she’s taken on yet another role as Test Coordinator, allowing her to ensure that all testing regulations are followed.

Her love for her students is clear. “Watching teenagers light up as they learn a new skill, figure out things for themselves, or come out of their shell during a presentation are what makes teaching so fulfilling,” she said. Though she’s been teaching for decades, she says she will continue teaching as long as she feels like she’s making a difference. She will continue to encourage a love of reading, academics and character building.

She has been honored as Teacher of the Year of Natchitoches Parish twice but considers being a Lakeview Gator a bigger honor.

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