Alva Review-Courier -

Meagan Henry selected as South Barber's 7-12 Teacher of the Year

• Builds 'trust' with students

 

January 9, 2019

"I was on the stage digging through a box of props for the play when they found me," Meagan Henry said of South Barber USD 255 Superintendent Dr. Mylo Miller and Grades 7-12 Principal Brent Shaffer. She had left her speech class momentarily for the prop search and wasn't sure why the administrators were trying to find her.

She admitted relief when she learned the superintendent and principal wanted to tell her she was chosen by her peers as South Barber Teacher of the Year (2019) for the grades 7-12 site.

This is Henry's 12th year as a teacher at South Barber High School. She teaches high school English II-IV, Speech I and II, yearbook and a drama class.

Kaynette Scheck is South Barber's elementary Teacher of the Year (and was previously featured in the Newsgram for this honor). This recognition allows Henry and Scheck to apply for the Kansas State Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Miller said, "It is a great honor for an educator to be recognized by their peers for their passion and hard work. Ms. Henry represents the hard work of all our teachers and educators in the district!"

A 1997 graduate of Stillwater High School, Henry graduated from NWOSU in 2006. She did her student teaching at South Barber under long-time English and speech beloved teacher Pat Noble, who was later inducted into the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame.

Finding an article this reporter wrote about Henry (then Masters) when she first arrived at South Barber, the two had a mutual admiration for each other and still do.

When asked Tuesday about Henry, Mrs. Noble said "When Megan was student teaching under me, I sensed she had the right qualities to become a good teacher. Not only is she good with students, she volunteers her time to extra curricular activities. She has developed into a rock for SBHS."

"I learned from some great teachers along the way," Henry said – listing Mrs. Noble, Mr. Gillig and Mr. Thompson.

"We have a really good staff," Henry said, referring to her current colleagues. "We support each other well," she added. "We've had a great year – strong teachers – positive changes. I liked Dr. Williams (former superintendent) but I also like Dr. Miller, who has many strengths."

Henry coached forensics since Day One, which is her passion. Her first year SB's team won third place at state (which is attributed to Mrs. Noble) but she has also had several students win first place at state through the years. "We're in the Top 5 most years. It's lots of work, but so worth it," she said.

"I received an email today from (last year exchange student from Spain) Fernando (Fernandez) that made me cry. He thanked me for pushing him in forensics and said it has helped him so much in public speaking."

It makes her feel good to have former students still ask her for help on their college papers, resumes, cover letters, etc.

She's using a new curriculum across the board this year for English classes, which she said "is challenging in a great way." Her favorite class to teach is sophomore English "because the students are still young and want to learn," she said – and mentioned this class includes lots of short stories, grammar and writing.

She's having students do an increased amount of writing papers as it helps prepare them for college and other careers. "I try to develop trust with my students. It's important because they write about the truth (happenings in their own lives)."

"I've always said, `If a student is failing in my class, I am failing them'," Henry said. Although she is known to go above and beyond for her students, she said, "I have to learn that students have to make a choice."

Henry is known to be a fairly laid-back teacher and really connects with her students. However, she said, "deadlines work" in reference to yearbook and having it ready to print on time.

"We have great kids!" Henry said.

When asked about his building's teacher of the year, Principal Shaffer said, "Mrs. Henry has built her classroom on relationships. She is a trusted staff member among the students and uses those positive relationships to push the students to succeed academically. Mrs. Henry always has a full plate and doesn't shy away from helping whenever and wherever help is needed. In a small school our teachers have many different subjects within the school day, Mrs. Henry is very good at prioritizing and maintaining balance among her different teaching areas."

Changes in Students and Technology Past 12 Years

Reflecting on changes in students she's witnessed the past 12 years, Henry said, "Student engagement has declined due to shorter attention spans." She attributes that to advances in technology which she said have obvious positive and negatives. "I also see a larger number of kids who are satisfied with doing just okay and not their best."

She likes the Chrome Books (laptop computers used by students), which Henry said allows for more interactive learning between students and the teacher. "Technology has opened the world for students to see things from a different perspective," she said. "They certainly see more than we did."

One of the few downsides to being able to google any subject at the touch of your fingertips is, "You lose your critical thinking because it's so easy," she said.

While students' textbooks are online, Henry said they also have a hard copy. Studies show students learn better reading from a book rather than a screen, she said.

SBHS is making a concerted effort to improve for students well being such as offering a "rigorous, tough curriculum" in the form of Advanced Placement Courses for college credit, she said.

Henry's role in forensics extends beyond South Barber to the state level. She is the Kansas High School Activities Association (KSHSAA)1A rep for speech and debate and has managed the state tab room several years. She is currently mentoring three new 1A speech coaches. She enjoys the statewide connections.

At South Barber she's on the negotiations committee for teachers and past president of the South Barber Educators.

Henry is proud that all three of the groups she is over are "self-funded" – including forensics, yearbook and the drama class. Students hold concession stands, make and sell student buttons for athletics and other involvement, charge admission to their plays, etc., to raise funds.

All of these extra events make Henry a busy lady with her children Ronan (age 3) and Norah (age 1). Warren, her husband of four years, is on the road a great deal as he does heavy construction jobs. "I couldn't do it without my mom (Homer Masters). I have a phenomenal support group."

Henry is ready for the forensics season that's starting. She's also excited to start on the drama class spring production of "Clue."

Henry certainly fills the requirements for Kansas State Teacher of the Year Nominees, a few which are:

• Be exceptionally skilled, dedicated and inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.

• Have the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues and should play an active and useful role in the community and in the school.

• Must be committed to serving as a leader in efforts to improve schools, student performance and the teaching profession in Kansas.

 

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