Whiting High School teacher Amanda Blackwell revolves her work around building strong relationships. She is a ninth-grade English teacher and the Assistant Athletic Director at the school. She also runs the spirited booster club and coaches the girl's volleyball team. Blackwell is a Whiting High School alumnus, so returning to her alma mater is something she describes as surreal.
Blackwell’s desire to teach stemmed from her coaching experiences in high school, when she would mentor her younger sister’s sports teams. She played volleyball, basketball, and softball in high school and softball in college.
“What really moved me toward this position was building relationships and helping them achieve their goals,” Blackwell said. “It’s a great and rewarding feeling. From there, I went on to become a teacher in hopes that I would have a similar positive impact on my students. Regardless of the setting, creating strong, long-lasting bonds is something that spans across all of my duties.”
Blackwell stated that the key to working with others, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is positivity and understanding. Carrying this mindset can also influence others for the better.
“I try to be a positive role model for my students,” Blackwell said. “Life is going to throw a lot of different situations at you, but being mentally strong, having an optimistic outlook, and being patient with yourself and with others can prepare you for anything.”
Blackwell further elaborated that the primary trait someone in her position must have is empathy. Practicing this as a role model really stands out for young people, and accordingly, her classroom has been designed to be a place where the students can unwind and demonstrate their creative side.
“Teachers have to remember that we’re working with developing young adults, so it’s our duty to be understanding and respectful toward them,” Blackwell said. “We often forget that we were once students facing issues as well.”
“For us teachers this past year, there have been really successful days and really difficult days, but it always helps to see the good in what you do,” Blackwell said. “At the end of the day, even the smallest gesture like a student staying after class to thank you really puts your work into perspective and reminds you how rewarding your career really is.”
Blackwell wants to give the teachers and staff of Whiting High School a special shout-out for their hard work and positive attitude throughout this past year.