History teacher extraordinaire, Rebecca Furman, has been with Hardin Valley Academy since year one, day one! I enjoyed getting to know this Teacher of the Year a little bit better and you will too. Shout out to Brown Bag for helping us spoil our Spotlight Teacher with a delicious lunch!
Adam: Where were you born?
Rebecca: I was born here in Knoxville, TN.
Adam: Which hospital?
Adam: Since you’re at the High School level here, what was your high school mascot?
Rebecca: We were the Beavers
Adam: What college did you go to?
Rebecca: For my undergrad I went to UT here in Knoxville, and for my masters I went to Lincoln Memorial
Adam: What did you major in?
Adam: How many years have you taught?
Rebecca: I’m pretty confident this is starting year 14.
Adam: How many have been at Hardin Valley?
Rebecca: Starting 10.
Adam: What clubs do you sponsor or coach?
Rebecca: I coached volleyball for 2 years, and that was just too much. I just wasn’t doing well in the classroom and realized I couldn’t do both. I used to sponsor the National Honors Society. I started that here. But I also gave that up 2 years ago because it was time to pass on the legacy. I do a lot of things for teachers. I’m in charge of Staff Matters, which is doing the cards for weddings, birthday, deaths, surgeries and things like that. Under that umbrella, I started a Staff Shout Out board this year. It’s not anything you have to put your name on, in fact I don’t want them to. It’s to build staff morale and give a chance to say nice things about each other. I do a staff chair, I’m the PLC Leader, and I have an intern, but most of it is more teacher oriented.
Adam: What subjects are you teaching this semester?
Rebecca: This semester I have one film study class and 2 US History classes.
Adam: What about next semester?
Rebecca: 3 US History classes.
Adam: Why did you get into teaching?
Rebecca: I’m one of those weird people, it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I remember when I was little I would line my cabbage patch dolls up and play teacher to them, as well as my barbies. My mom was PTA president and all that stuff so she was at the school a lot, she would sub, bring home stuff, and I’d use all the little books to read to my cabbage patches. That was kind of something I always wanted to do. My dad was a history major, was going to be a teacher, my aunt is a teacher, and it kind of ran in the family a little bit. I just love it. I don’t have a “what else would you do thing” because this is all I’ve wanted to do.
Adam: That wraps that up! *laughs* What were your cabbage patch dolls’ names?
Rebecca: Well my favorite one was, Cindy, and my daughter plays with that one now. I had my first two, Cassie and Ronald, haha! Is it sad that I can remember all of this? And she plays with them too! They are the first generation Cabbage Patch Dolls. And then I had Jordan, I had Beau, and they are all still up in my parent’s attic too. We have yet to pull all of them down and expose them to our daughter. *laughter*
Adam: I desperately wanted one growing up because my sisters had one. Then one day it finally came in I remember thinking..
Rebecca: “This is it”?
Adam: “I don’t really want that doll”. *laughter*
Adam: Who was your favorite teacher when you were a student?
Rebecca: That would have to be my 8th English teacher, Ms. JoAnn Miller. I still keep up with her today and I’m friends with her daughter. She was just amazing. I always knew i wanted to teach, but having her and seeing how excited she made it, and how she was always excited to get up in front of the kids and teach and talk just made it a great experience.
Adam: It’s hard not to get excited going to a teacher’s class like that. Your day might not be going great, but you know you’ll have that one period that it’ll be different.
Adam: Which educator have you learned the most from?
Rebecca: There’s been so many. Even the principals. Mr. Miller at Central was my first principal and I have a special place in my heart for him because he taught you me have to be strict with those kids but you also have to have a little bit of heart too because they don’t have a lot at home. Out here [HVA] it’s very different and I’ve learned a lot. Out here it’s based on academies, so we don’t have just the social studies teachers to talk to. It’s nice to sit down with everyone and discuss what we want to do, and they give us feedback about what to add to it. You’re pulling in an English side and other subjects. It’s cool to work with your whole academy and not just work with one person. We all try to sit together and try to help each other out as much as possible.
Adam: That’s awesome. It really is a different kind of model that not everyone gets exposed to.
Adam: Have you earned any professional awards?
Rebecca: I got Teacher of the Year at Central my first year.
Adam: FIRST YEAR?
Rebecca: Well it’s student led, student voted. So it had nothing to do with, you know. I felt it was more of a popularity contest *laughter*. But it was awesome, I still got it!
Adam: Well that’s a big one!
Adam: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Rebecca: I think I’m most proud of going back to school to finish my masters. I had started it and just really wanted to get into the schools and into the classrooms to teach. I had a 5 year window I had to finish it in or start over again. So I taught here, and went to class a couple night of week. Nothing was online. It was hard to teach, go to class, and juggle doing things on the weekend. To me that was big, because I am the 3rd person on my dad’s side of the family to graduate from college and the 2nd on my mom’s side. To me that was something important for me to do.
Adam: Absolutely ! Do you think if you had the option you of doing it online or in the classroom you still would have done it in the classroom?
Rebecca: Ah, I don’t know. My husband just went back and finished his masters and his was ALL online. That was all “Read this”, “Reflect”, “Read this”, “Reflect”. It was nice he could do it all on his own time. But I like that classroom interaction. I would rather go talk to people and hang out with people.
Adam: What do you consider a successful student to be?
Rebecca: To me it’s someone that can function in life, and show me that they can know the material in my class but on the flip side also learn those life lessons and go out into the world to apply it. I know history is important, but I tell my students every year that to me, it’s more important to learn about life lessons. If you didn’t turn in your homework, you don’t get full credit, because at McDonalds, if you don’t turn the frier on, food isn’t made and people don’t get lunch. To me it’s about the life lessons and figuring out what you want to do.
Adam: What improvement do you like most to see in the education system?
Adam: More of it right?
Rebecca: Oh totally! haha! I’m not saying that we need to totally get rid of it, because I understand there needs to be some sort of assessment. But the amount that we have is just too many. We just had a meeting today about our testing schedule for this semester and we are already looking at it. It’s not even until the last week of November or first week of December. In a class that is doing the testing, we have to be done with our curriculum almost a month before the testing so then I have 2-3 weeks left of subject to fill at the end after testing. It’s not like you can watch movies for 2 weeks. So definitely testing, and then just let me do my job. All the regulations and the government crud, just let me do my job.
Adam: What’s something you could use in your classroom?
Rebecca: I just don’t know. I have some really good parents, and I do a wish list every year that I send home. It’s not for extra credit, it’s just for if they see something at Target that’s on sale and they want to buy some. And then at Christmas, I do little ‘Post Its’ with the same stuff on it. I typically have enough parents that will give things to get us through the school year.
Adam: So you’re not lacking anything? Maybe something more than Kleenex? Jared Huisingh asked for a mobile library.
Rebecca: An electric hole puncher would be great!
Adam: Why that?
Rebecca: I like having holes in stuff ready for the kids to put right in their folders and not lose it. Our copy machines got too expensive so they replaced them with ones that don’t punch holes. It would be nice to have that in there and make my copies and go about my business and not take more time to hole punch 2-5 at a time. It’s all about the kids. That would benefit them, so I’m all about it.
Adam: Someone out there PLEASE!
Rebecca: They aren’t that expensive! *Laughter*
Adam: What Hobbies do you have?
Rebecca: They are called Pierce and Cruz, and they are 3 and 9! When I’m not shuffling them back and forth, I like to read, ALOT. But football season just doesn’t really allow that.
Adam: Why is that?
Rebecca: My husband coaches football, and my son plays football. It doesn’t really allow for lives these last 2 months. I like to read and I enjoy shopping when I can, it just doesn’t happen. Ever. I like to also “play” in my flower beds as I call it. We moved into this house 3 years ago and I have yet to have time to do anything to my flower beds. We moved in when I was pregnant, then we had our baby, and my husband blew his knee out, and his mother moved. So maybe this Spring i’ll get to play in the flower beds.
Adam: What would you plant?
Rebecca: Well my Granny, My dad’s mom, was a big planter. She had a ton of stuff. So he has her plants that he will give me pieces of to plant in our home. I had a bunch of stuff in our old home. We had orange lillies, cana, he has hostas and elephant ears. Most were from my grandmother’s plants.
Adam: What is a good way for a student or parent to spoil you?
Rebecca: For me, which is going to make me emotional…It’s not about me [her eyes did well up]. It’s really about the kids. I get embarrassed when they bring me things, like Chick-Fil-A. I don’t want them doing that, because it’s not about me. BUT if they had to, I love a good sweet tea and Sun Drop.
Adam: I know where you’re coming from, but it’s also important to let people serve you sometimes. It’s good for growth.
Rebecca: Oh I know, when I was pregnant, I had a student that would bring me a McFlurry and goodies at least twice a month.
Adam: What kind of McFlurry ?
Rebecca: Cookies N Cream! The butterfinger and the M&Ms just get too hard. Not for me!
We will send you the Hardin Valley Coupon Book.