Do We Have Caring Teachers at Lewis High School?


Carina Ibrahim

IB Anthro/Law In Action teacher Holly Miller catches up with senior Nabeeha Mahmood during advisory.

Grace Partain, Staff Writer

Do you think it’s important to have a caring teacher? I’ve heard many stories from Lewis students about how their current and past teachers didn’t care, and students subsequently gave up trying because of the classroom environment. Having a good relationship with a teacher is extremely important. Just knowing that you have someone to talk to or go to if you’re having problems is the key to academic success and personal growth. 

But I’ve also had my own troubles with certain teachers. These teachers did not make the effort to see if I was understanding the material. Half of the time, it seems like they’ve just given up on teaching all together. I struggle with ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). That means it’s hard for me to focus. And when I have a teacher who seems indifferent, it’s very discouraging. I wanted to see if any other students have felt this way about teachers. 

When I asked some students about the importance of caring teachers, seniors Maddi Cox and Lori Sanchez gave similar responses. 

“It brings students closer together,” Cox said.

“It’s good to have a support system,” Sanchez said.

When I asked about Lewis teachers who made a difference, Maddi Cox recognized science teacher Rachel Clausen.

“Mrs. Clausen has made me and my class feel less anxious with exams and assignments, she makes our community feel comfortable,” Cox said.

However, Sanchez couldn’t come up with a teacher when asked. “I don’t think any teacher I’ve had cared about my success; it doesn’t make me feel good about my intelligence,” Sanchez said. No student should ever feel like that.

I had also asked the students, “Do you have teachers that account for your interests?” Two of them named the same teacher, while an anonymous senior said, “Yes, just not at this school.” It’s a shame that he can’t name a single teacher at this school who takes his interests into account. 

After hearing the students point of view, I decided to hear it from the teachers perspective. I ended up interviewing four teachers, two male teachers, representing the economics and math departments and two female teachers, representing the math and English departments.

The first question I asked these teachers was, “What makes you come to work everyday?” All but one said to make a difference in student lives. The math teacher said he was coming for himself, both “to be better than I was the previous day” and due to “my stubborn refusal to quit.”

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s a bit of a red flag when they teach to feel better about themselves.

Another question I asked was, “Do you like being a teacher?” Three of the four said they love being a teacher, but the teacher from the math department said “yes” with no explanation offered. 

The very last question I asked was “What’s the hardest part about being a teacher?”

The male math teacher said, “Teaching students who are not motivated to learn and would rather accept failure than work hard to overcome challenges.”

The economics teacher said, “Having students who don’t care about their future or don’t see the importance of learning things they may not find interesting.” 

These are both valid points. But wouldn’t a teacher’s attitude affect a student’s motivation or willingness to do the work? 

The female teachers had completely different responses regarding the difficulties of their job. The math teacher said “losing a student to suicide” was most difficult. The English teacher didn’t say anything about students. She said, “The mistreatment of many administrators.” I know male and female teachers are going to be different from each other, but just seeing how different the answers were from each other, I can tell who really cares.

So I’ll ask again. Do you think it’s important to have a caring teacher? While students are responsible for some degree of their own success, teachers have a bigger impact on that than they realize. It’s important for students to feel heard and feel seen. It’s important for teachers to feel respected by students and their peers. It’s important for teachers to adapt to meet the needs of a student with disabilities.

As a senior with learning disabilities at Lewis High School, I hope the teachers who read this take time to reflect on the way they teach and interact with their students. Don’t compare one student to another because you might not know what challenges they face.