Teachers were high schoolers once too

Isadora Groves

When asked about the high school experience, a few things may come to mind for Wilson students: jam-packed halls, the noisy atrium, lots of homework, and rowdy sports games. Or perhaps more recently, face masks, COVID-19 tests, and empty seats.

But, while this high school imagery relates to us now, it is not universal. Many Wilson teachers had high school experiences unlike the average Tiger’s. 

Julie Leogal, a first-year French teacher at Wilson, went to high school in the suburbs of Paris, France. “The difference from France and here is you change classes, you aren’t with the same people all the time,” she explained. “I was in a class with the same people for two years!” 

Victor Vela, a fifth-year Spanish teacher at Wilson, also went to high school in Europe. He drew distinctions between his school in Alicante, Spain, and Wilson, mentioning, “Homecoming, all of those types of things, even the lockers in the hallways; that is something that I had only seen in movies,” he said. 

Vela and Leogal remarked that these individual experiences have shaped them as educators.  

 Leogal said her high school had a very “colonized mindset,” meaning that the curriculum was not inclusive of different perspectives despite the diverse student body. Therefore, she explained, “I really try to be aware of the cultural diversity of my students.” 

Katherine Dougherty, a biology teacher at Wilson, shaped her entire career based off of her high school experience. “My biology teacher is what convinced me to want to teach biology,” she explained. This teacher also taught Dougherty lessons that she incorporates into her teaching style today. Dougherty emphasizes the importance of students having fun while learning, rather than cramming in order to finish a lesson. 

Although the high school experiences of these teachers were unique and impacted them differently, they are all unified in one way: they love teaching at Wilson. 

Each expressed great admiration for the range of classes and extracurriculars offered. “I feel like now you have better classes to prepare you for the future and for different types of careers,” Leogal said. “[There are] computer classes, chemistry, biology, and so many electives.”

Vela agreed, adding that “depending on what you like, or what you enjoy doing, or how you identify yourself, there is a group for you. You can find someone that’s into whatever you are into.” •