Spending 13 years in the school system exposes students to a lot of different teachers, and almost everyone I know has at least one memorable or impactful educator that they still appreciate long after leaving the K-12 system. I've had the privilege of meeting several incredible teachers through my own years of schooling. There is one teacher in particular that stands out to me as I think back to my high school experience; the one teacher who inspired me to pursue a career in education myself. That teacher is Mr. Keonté Edmonds. I'd like to dedicate this post to him, and share the reasons I admire him so much as a teacher to this day. He is an excellent example of what teachers should be like with their students and I hope to implement some of his practices into my own classroom one day.
I first met Mr. Edmonds when I was in the 10th grade. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I was interested in becoming a veterinarian one day, so I signed up for an Animal Science course with Mr. Edmonds. Little did I know how much my life would change the day I entered his classroom.
Mr. Edmonds was relatively new to my high school at the time I took his course, and he only remained at that school for a couple of years before transferring closer to his home. In the short amount of time my small, rural high school had Mr. Edmonds, he completely transformed the agricultural department in the school, and built connections with countless students. He taught Animal Science I, Animal Science II (one section for small animals, one section for large animals), and Veterinary Assisting, acted as an advisor for the school's FFA chapter as well as the newly formed Humane Society Club chapter, increased the amount of live animals on the schools' campus, and worked at a veterinary clinic himself. To this day, I still have no idea how he managed to balance his schedule so well. One thing was clear though, he was a valuable asset to our school.
Not only was Mr. Edmonds involved in the school, but he was invested in his students. He pushed each of us to succeed and become involved in extra curricular activities of our interest. He held us accountable by delegating tasks in the classroom (such as taking care of animals, completing projects on time, and earning agricultural experience hours outside of class). He taught us professionalism by having us conduct class like an FFA meeting, requiring that we learn to write resumes and cover letters, teaching us what professional attire was, and creating assignments that would involve public speaking. I learned how to participate in the interview process and conduct myself in a presentation through his course, on top of learning the content related to animal science and veterinary procedures. I was definitely out of my comfort zone at first, but I still use the skills he taught us in professional situations.
What really made Mr. Edmonds an incredible teacher was not how many activities he was involved in, but making his students feel seen. Never before had I encountered a teacher who truly saw every single one of their students and provide a space where we could all excel. I took 3 classes with Mr. Edmonds, and participated in both FFA and the Humane Society Club, and I wanted to list out specific moments that stuck out to me that make a great teacher.
Mr. Edmonds implemented what was called a "positive protocol", which was a small activity at the beginning of each class to promote positivity, teamwork, and respect. Through these activities, the class was able to grow close.
He actively sought out opportunities for his students, whether that be encouraging someone to run for club leadership positions or finding scholarship opportunities.
He set high expectations for each of us. This pushed many of us to get involved with organizations we may not have on our own, and encouraged us to go above and beyond in our every day lives.
He was candid with us. We got to know who he is as a person, not just as a teacher. He would tell us his dreams of becoming a veterinarian himself, and openly admit that he was still growing as well.
Mr. Edmonds is still an inspiration to me as he continues his teaching career at another high school. When I switched my interest from veterinary medicine to education, I was worried I would disappoint him. He had helped me navigate the world of veterinary medicine and found opportunities for me to gain Vet Technician licensure or connect with animal advocates. However, when I told him my plans had changed, he was one of the first adults in my life who was fully on-board with my goals. He immediately began forwarding me scholarships for Education Majors/Teachers, wrote recommendations for me to obtain a job working with students, and continues to give me encouragement today. It was that support that affirmed my decision to become an educator myself.
The biggest lesson that Mr. Edmonds taught me is that the best teachers aren't necessarily the ones who pump the most classroom content into you, rather, they are the ones who take a holistic approach to each child, helping them towards their future goals, whatever they may be. He cared about our academic achievement, but most importantly, he instilled professionalism and compassion in us, as well as cared for our social-emotional needs. For that, I will always be thankful.
I would love for you all to share your favorite teachers with me, and why they stand out to you, so that I can share your stories in a future post! If you have a teacher who's played a vital role in your life, please send who they are and/or what grade you had them as well as what made them great teachers! You can submit your stories by clicking here and pressing the "Contact" button. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!