English teacher carries passion for reading, writing into new chapter of life
Every student has undoubtedly experienced the wrath of Mrs. Myers’ deliberate purple pen across their essay. With every comment made, yet another feeling of failure crossed the student’s mind. Yet, with every so called failure came a more valuable lesson, and a gentle push towards harnessing the power of language. Every move was intentional because Mrs. Myers knew her students could achieve their potential.
After 15 years of teaching at Minnehaha Academy, English teacher Katherine Myers is leaving to pursue a new, more specialized career in English at Mounds Park Academy.
“After 15 years, I am looking for new opportunities to expand my creative vision for the English curriculum,” Myers said.
Myers will teach freshmen and sophomore English, as well as senior level electives in more specialized classes of science fiction and creative writing.
“I will miss my students, everything from greeting students in the hall to watching them on stage in assembly and seeing their growth and seeing them reach their potential,” Myers said.
Before Minnehaha, Myers worked at Irondale High School and found herself overwhelmed by the class size and workload.
Conveniently, journalism and social studies teacher Reid Westrem was working at Irondale at the same time, and advised Myers to apply for a position at Minnehaha, where his wife, English teacher Robyn Westrem, worked at the time.
Deciding to apply, Myers was accepted as a part-time English teacher for freshmen in 2002. Throughout her time at Minnehaha, Myers taught all grades in English classes, as well as AP Language and Composition.
“The longer I have been here, I have really gotten grounded in why I teach,” Myers reflected. “I know my job is that we are here to love ourselves, love God and love others. I’ve loved my journey of reaching that point, not just teaching English, but using it as a vehicle.”
Throughout her career, Myers allowed herself to explore the true power of English and spread her knowledge to anyone she encountered.
“My time here at Minnehaha has allowed me to pursue my own writing and my own spiritual path, and all of those have brought me back to story, that story is the way we learn about God and ourselves and others.”
Unbeknownst to many, Myers had a major role in crafting the Cultural Field Experience (CFE) program.
She was a part of the process from the start, perfecting the name and mission statement to promote the ability to experience other people, as well as experience their story.
This past March, Myers and Latin teacher Johanna Beck led the “Arts & Conversations” CFE trip, which focused on the power of experiencing one’s story through art, and ultimately, a conversation.
“She seems like she’s always about six steps ahead of everybody else,” Beck said. “If you’re trying to discuss making a change, she is able to see all of the potential impacts it can have.”
Myers’ indirect journey to self-discovery through her career at Minnehaha also impacted students and teachers alike.
“When I first started here, Mrs. Myers was my ‘teacher hero,’” Beck said. “Professionally, she’s impacted me from the beginning of my career here. Personally, she’s been a mentor to me, and she’s been my best friend.”
In the classroom, Myers is a powerhouse waiting to help any student willing to learn, her impact unavoidable.
“She [helped teach] me that I was good at writing,” junior Kayla Williams said. “She has really cultivated my potential and helped me along the way. She has taught [me] to not limit myself to only what I think I can do…to have an open mind to all the possibilities.”
Not only does Myers help students down the path of becoming a better writer, but she also creates an environment filled with genuine passion.
“She is really good at making sure that joy and creativity is still in the classroom, that things are not just drudgery and work for its own sake,” said Robyn Westrem, English department chair. “The aspect of beauty and creativity of writing [stays alive].”
Myers’ love and attention for the success of students transcends past the classroom. As a senior advisory leader, her advisees form close, personal relationships with her the four years.
“Mrs. Myers once told me to always go back to who I am, to find myself amidst all the unknown and hard things in life,” senior Britta Chelgren, one of Myers’ advisees, said.
“She said ‘put your hand on your heart and remember who you are and all you have gone through.’ Mrs. Myers would have done the same thing for anyone because that is the type of teacher, the type of mentor, she is. ”
While it is the beginning of a new chapter for both Myers and Minnehaha, the students and faculty will always remember her humble, constant guidance and dedication to her students.
“She is type of employee where there are so many ways that we benefitted from her presence that it won’t be until she leaves until we figure out [just how much she did] effortlessly,” Robyn Westrem said.
Besides all of the practical lessons Myers has taught her students, the most important lesson is to remember the great value language as a tool of expression, and with that, the invaluable power of story.
“Reading and writing are vehicles for understanding others,” Myers said, “and with that understanding will come compassion and love.”