“I have a desire to inspire the kids, to help them think about things,” Ms. Henderson, an AP English 11 teacher and English Department head, said when asked about her goals when teaching. She tries to teach her students the skills–namely writing and communicating–that are necessary in the real world, and has unknowingly become very popular among her students.
Ms. Henderson’s favorite thing about teaching is “when the kids have that ‘aha’ moment” when they see material from the classroom being used in everyday life. For instance, she is currently working with her students on rhetoric. “There’s so much going on with this, with the election and everything. When they come to me and they say, ‘hey, I noticed when this candidate said this, they were using this form of rhetoric.’ That to me is what makes teaching worthwhile.”
Despite the heavy workload from also being the department head of English at Millbrook, she has “a wonderful team of teachers that I work with” who help her balance and deal with the responsibilities so that she can focus on her work with her students. She most hopes that the knowledge that “their voice matters” is what her students to take away from her class. “How they interact with the world in general is all based on English and language,” she said. “I think that that’s a powerful tool: to present our voices to the public.”
Her favorite book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. “My kids probably hear it a million times. The more I read it, the more I see myself in that book,” Ms. Henderson said. She originally read it in high school, per recommendation of her AP English teacher, then again in college, then again in graduate school, and even more times since.
Growing up in southern West Virginia, her top choice for college was West Virginia University. “We’ve got some VT fans in here too,” she laughed when another teacher booed at her from across the room. “I loved my department there, it was awesome. The people, the professors that I had, my colleagues, and also peers were just awesome; they were wonderfully supportive while I was there.”
Ms. Henderson is unsure why her students all seem to love her and her class so much. “I don’t know, I hope they like me.” However, she hopes that her students are able to think of her class as a team. “I want them to know…that I’m their coach. I’m there to support them and help them through things.”