I was fortunate to attended schools that were sought out by the very best teachers. Because of this, my desire to learn was enhanced by their creativity. My ninth grade Social Studies teacher was one of those who had a natural aptitude for inspiring a learning atmosphere.
Miss Strong was not only new to the junior high school I attended. She was also new as a teacher anywhere. You may think that this means that she was going to have some problems with keeping the students under control. In later years, I wondered if that was why she was given the classroom closest to the school office. Having the principal just across the hall might have had some bearing on how her students would behave.
Although having the principal a few steps away probably gave her some degree of comfort, I’ve returned to my original supposition as to why her students stayed engaged in her classes. She was young, impeccably dressed in the latest fashion, and chose hairstyles that were becoming to her natural face shape. The boys fell in love with her, wanting to please her in any way possible. The girls looked up to her as a knowledgeable big sister. No, there weren’t any behavior problems in any of her classes.
In order to keep students engaged in the subject being taught a teacher can’t just rely on the first impression he or she makes. A teacher must be creative in how he or she presents the material. Miss Strong had ideas that had probable not been used in many years. (I would say that the ideas had never been used before but I think both of us are aware that approximately 95% of so-called new ideas are old one reworked to be compatible with present day life.)
The fall of my ninth year of school coincided with the presidential election here in the United States. The two major candidates were Richard M. Nixon representing the Republican Party, and Hubert H. Humphrey on the side of the Democrat Party. Of course, Miss Strong was delight with this seeing that the curriculum for ninth grade Social Studies was centered on the subject of government.
Miss Strong set up her lesson plans for the entire first semester with a mock election right there in the classroom. We went through the activities of the campaigns. We had our own debates going with different students playing the part of these two candidates. We studied the issues of the election for that year and used them in those debates we held. We actually had voting in our classroom the same day as the US did that year.
It takes a special person to keep a young teenager enthusiastic about learning. I found learning about my country’s government and foundation easy that year. In addition, Miss Strong’s strategies in her mode of teaching helped me remember more of the details that became invaluable in high school.