Elizabeth Clark has been a teacher for 34 years. Currently, she teaches English I and II to 9th and 10th graders at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Her teaching philosophy is simple, she wants every child to be able to attend a school where they feel safe to gain knowledge, personal growth and acceptance. She hopes that students’ experiences in school will lead to the desire to continue a lifelong passion of learning.
Teaching for so long has given Clark a plethora of good memories, but her favorite is seeing the light bulb turn on when a child grasps what has been taught. She always loves hearing former students share their memories of her classes and express their appreciation for all that she’s taught them.
Clark said, “Diversity has certainly described my career.” Over the years she has taught in low-socioeconomic areas, magnet schools, rural schools, city schools, and private schools. The availability of classroom resources, like sets of novels, Smartboards, and computers is the biggest difference between the distinct types of schools.
She said that in all environments, one thing is the same. All students want to be accepted and to be taught. Specifically, she said that she loves working in a Catholic school, and that faith-based learning with Christian values is wonderful. There is a community feeling at Catholic schools, and she finds that the parent and teacher relationships are particularly strong.
Clark always wanted to be a teacher from her first class of stuffed animals, a new rolling chalkboard for Christmas at the age of 10, to the present. To aspiring teachers, Clark says, “If your heart isn’t in it, don’t do it. The rewards are not financial, but they are cherished experiences that you will never forget.”
Clark loves teaching English because it’s the cornerstone of communication. She says that through reading literature, students can connect with characters and themes, and use the lessons taught by the authors in their own lives. On the other hand, many students find writing their own stories cathartic and therapeutic. Language and grammar gives students the knowledge of proper communication skills, which benefit them later in life. Although English is often unappreciated initially, Clark said she has no doubt that students will recognize the benefits of her teachings as they grow older.