Originally published in the spring 2017 edition of The Pillar, Athenian’s student newspaper by Jenna H. ’19
As I embark on the second semester of my sophomore year at Athenian, I have had time to reflect on my educational experiences. At my public middle school, although I was successful academically, something left me feeling unfulfilled and, frankly, upset from time to time. To my surprise, I couldn’t pinpoint a moment in which I was honestly excited to go to school or felt as though I was part of a larger community. It was an environment in which no efforts were made to know me on a personal level. No teacher went out of their way to talk to me; if I wasn’t getting into trouble, why bother?
Amongst the 1,200 students in the whole school, I was not seen as anything more than a grade, simply a student you didn’t need to worry about because you knew I’d graduate. For three years, I simply went through the motions, becoming more accustomed to the lack of communication and genuine connection.
At Athenian, I feel as though I have come to be appreciated as a whole person. I think students at our school might not always realize it, but the kind rapport between teachers and students on our campus is a remarkable blessing. Meeting with a teacher to receive extra help on an assignment, or simply having a teacher check in with me about my well-being was something I had previously never experienced from an adult at school. Here, I feel that teachers not only celebrate their students’ successes but help them navigate challenges and overcome their failures. Occasionally, I am still surprised when I see a student being treated as an equal, even a friend by an adult on campus.
From my experiences, thus far, the relationships I am able to have with my teachers has positively impacted my communication skills, further contributing to my academic success and overall enjoyment of learning. In a way, I think this is an homage to the wonderful faculty and staff on our campus, the heroes who aren’t always recognized for everything that they do, as well as their efforts to foster a community of mutual respect and well-being.