Thank a Teacher Day: 4 Ways Teachers Are Making an Impact
On May 8, 2018, the nation is celebrating Thank a Teacher Day. At Milton Hershey School, we celebrate our teachers every day as they help students develop good study habits, strong work ethic, and the ability to set clear goals.
To understand the impact MHS teachers and staff make on a daily basis—and appreciate what makes Milton Hershey School such a rewarding place to work—keep reading to see how they’re making a difference.
1. Teachers are involved in all aspects of students’ lives.
At MHS, students live on a residential campus in student homes with two houseparents and up to 12 students of similar ages. This gives MHS teachers the unique opportunity to show an interest in students’ lives outside the classroom.
“[Teaching at MHS] is unique because students live on campus and they all come from similar backgrounds,” said Nanette Huffman, MHS Senior Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “Teachers are involved in all aspects of their lives—whether it’s academics, sports, visual and performing arts, or social skill development.”
Each school year, middle school teachers are paired with student homes and encouraged to attend holiday dinners, birthday celebrations, and community service activities. By getting involved outside the classroom, MHS teachers are able to build trust and gain a better perspective and understanding of students’ day-to-day lives. Connecting home life to the classroom also ensures students have support at every level.
“We encourage teachers to make connections with houseparents and communicate on an ongoing basis to support the whole child,” said Huffman.
2. Teachers build lifelong relationships with students.
Because MHS teachers are so involved, they form natural connections with students and motivate them to achieve success.
“Our teachers develop strong bonds with students that last well beyond graduation,” Huffman said. “Students look up to teachers as role models and mentors to help them through difficult stages of life. They give students hope and the belief that they, too, can be successful in the future.”
To help students overcome homesickness and other emotions, MHS staff take their responsibility seriously to serve as trusted adults. In many cases, teachers continue to stay in touch with students after graduation, guiding them through college and daily responsibilities.
“Teachers are students’ first line of support. They’re the ones who recognize when they do something great or if they’re having a bad day,” said Huffman. “Our teachers give encouragement, guidance, direction in difficult times, and overall, they support students in the absence of their families.”
3. Teachers understand how to engage students from impoverished backgrounds.
Every MHS teacher completes a New Teacher Induction program, and discusses ways to help students overcome the barriers of poverty. Because Milton Hershey School provides full medical, dental and vision care, social and emotional support, health and wellness resources, and food and clothing, teachers have the resources to support all aspects of a child’s development.
Over time, many staff members share their knowledge with the community through presentations that shed light on the effects of poverty.
4. Teachers give students the tools—and mindsets—to be successful.
Whether a student is receiving academic support, or is learning how to make responsible decisions, they may not know how to overcome these challenges when they first enroll at MHS. Teachers can provide the support and tools to positively influence a student’s attitude.
“We have a rigorous curriculum, and we push students to prepare them for life after graduation,” Huffman said. “We show them what success looks like. Once students taste a little bit of success, they’re more driven academically and they’re willing to work harder. They may not have had that in the past.”
On top of the school’s academic, physical and emotional support, MHS teachers do what many individuals hope to do in their lifetime: they make a meaningful impact.
“The field of education is exciting and such a meaningful occupation,” Huffman added. “All a child needs is one person to believe in them—to make them feel valued. Our teachers make an impact on students’ lives in so many ways.”