I am a graduate from Patrick Henry High School. As number three of almost 400 this past June, I was an intellectual that truly got to know many of my teachers. I can honestly say without hesitation or doubt that Patrick Henry is home to many amazing teachers that truly make themselves equal to the students and genuinely care.
For example, I was enrolled in AP Chemistry my senior year. This course was one of my most challenging classes and is still one of the most rigorous classes offered at PHHS. I was contemplating dropping this class at the beginning of the year; however, my decision to stick with it was made when the class teacher, Mrs. Embrey, met with me after school and told me that she believed in me and that she would do her best to stay after school to review course material, homework, and practice problems with me one on one anytime I needed.
I was a student athlete so these after-school meetings were even more crucial and difficult to plan. However, Mrs. Embrey came through. She was there every time I needed her and was always positive and encouraging even when I had completely failed on my own.
She kept a record of which students stayed after to review and that record can confirm that I stayed after at least twice a week and many times I stayed after every day of the week. If you doubt my words, her diligence and determination to help me can be seen even more clearly by the fact that I earned a 5 on my AP Chemistry test.
This is truly a feat that few others share with me and is due to Mrs. Embrey’s complete and total willingness to make me best prepared. It is because of this large time commitment that I feel my success would not have been as feasibly if Mrs. Embrey had had more students.
Mrs. Sawyer, a Latin teacher at PHHS, showed equal diligence and determination to help me when I was a sophomore at PHHS. I was applying to the Summer Governor’s Latin Academy that fall and Mrs. Sawyer met with me during study block and after school on MANY occasions in order that I would do my best. She reviewed every ounce of Latin grammar with me that I had learned over the years. It was not the most fun of times; however, Mrs. Sawyer always came to our sessions with a great attitude and was always willing to clarify what she had already clarified to ensure that it stuck.
Her faithfulness and love of teaching and helping me was paid off. I was admitted to the Governor’s Latin Academy the summer of 2010. I was one of only four other sophomores to attend that year. This accomplishment truly was worth all the hours and was wholly due to Mrs. Sawyer.
Similarly, Mrs. Bullock, an AP English teacher at PHHS, showed dedication to me as we prepared for the AP test I took last May. She gave me a new perspective on Literature and showed me that any argument was right as long as I could back it up with thoughts and textual evidence. She always encouraged me to write more. Her students were not allowed to write less than four pages so that we would pass the AP test.
Because of this, time reviewing essays was limited in class. I often met with her during study block and before school so that we could progress in class but I would still be able to have corrective criticisms in order that I improve. She was always willing to listen and explain how I could have written better and made a stronger argument. Because of this, I passed my AP. As a junior I failed that exam. This progress could not have been possible if Mrs. Bullock had not been as passionate and willing to go the extra mile.
Mrs. Embrey, Mrs. Sawyer, Mrs. Bullock and so many other teachers put in significantly more hours outside of the classroom than mandated, many of which they are not credited. It make no sense, then, that teachers be made to teach an additional class, if now they do so much more than their paychecks show now.
Also, staying after school would be even more necessary if teachers were made to have an additional class because so much less time would be given on review of material. The grading process would be that much longer so that by the time a test was graded, the class would be on a different unit.
Some would argue this is not the case; however, in an English class designed as a preparation for a writing intensive test, multiple choice tests are absurd. Free response and essays are absolutely mandatory for many classes in order for the student to pass the AP, IB, or even SOL test. This surplus of students staying after school means less one on one interaction. This translates into less of an intellectual understanding for the student. This statement comes from personal experience. When in a group tutoring session, I score lower on tests that I do when on an individual tutoring level.
Time does not permit larger numbers with constant time. I feel, thus, that budgeting for another class per teacher is not the best approach. Certainly, other school systems make it work, but those counties are not Hanover. We are different in Hanover and are unique and should not have to mold to other forms.
I am sending these words with the greatest honesty and sincerity. I do genuinely hope that you take my words into account when making a decision.
Thank you for your time,