Connecting in the Classroom
By Mr. Mark Cotterman, Head of School
It's between classes, and a senior talks with Mr. Lyn Cunningham about the importance of the common man in history. A fifth-grader writes a note across the top of her assignment thanking her teacher. Students are engaged with hands raised during the 48 minutes in Mr. Andy Stapleton's Worldview class. A grammar school student squeezes Mrs. Traci DeBra, saying, "Thank you for praying for me."
These daily interactions easily are missed for those of us outside the classroom. So, this school year I decided to gain a greater understanding of the connections between our students and teachers by becoming a student for a day. What is it like to be a student at MHA in the classroom, in the hallways, and at lunch? What is the pace of the daily routine? How much variety is there across subjects? Do I have time to get to the bathroom and back to class? So far, I've spent a full day with both the seventh- and eighth-graders.
Here is a sampling of my day in seventh grade. Old Testament with Dr. Christopher Jero is a student presentation day. I was terrified of public speaking at their age; some of our students are nervous, too, and yet they all are composed and clearly trained well. In Pre-Algebra Mrs. Lisa Cotterman puts problems on the overhead; I think I understand, but I ask my neighbor to make sure. In Latin the only open seat is in front. The students are up out of their chairs, chanting the Latin exercises. Where does Miss Esther Cunningham get all this energy? Mr. Andrew Waldy starts Literature with a dramatically recited poem. In Earth Science, Mrs. Ruth Hopson gives us pliable candy to model rock formations. Off to music with Mrs. Jennifer Weiland –why is everyone giggling during warm ups? Do I sound that bad? The day ends with Mr. Paul Brinkerhoff's Logic class. While reviewing for an upcoming test, everyone is engaged in discussing logic rules. I make sure I don't start a sentence with "umm."
Walking in our students' shoes gave me a better sense of the Rhetoric School day. I invite all parents to visit our classrooms and experience firsthand what it is like to be a student at MHA. Our mission is to come alongside you in the covenantal training of your children, and the best way to experience this partnership is in the classroom. Earlier this year, a group of Grammar School and Rhetoric School parents asked to participate in a half day of classes. They so valued the experience that they enthusiastically recommended we invite more parents to do the same.
We welcome parents to be a part of the classrooms at any time. Contact the office to schedule your own classroom day!
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