Darcy Haberl, Social Studies / AP Government & Politics and Contemporary World Issues Teacher at Heritage High School in Vancouver, Washington
Nominated by Julie Johnson (fellow educator)
I have had the pleasure to work with this teacher as a para-educator assistant for almost three years. This teacher shows compassion for every student and creates a healthy, high level classroom where students learn about US Government and how they might apply that knowledge, to their journey after high school. Her AP students just recently won Districts in the “We the People” contest. Her motivation and drive to help every student in large class sizes and different student dynamic is really inspiring and I have learned so much on how to better work with students. She teaches her students how to be successful in college and the real world and when the go into the job force. She goes over and beyond to assist students and faculty!
Congrats Darcy, from all of us at K103!
What inspired you to become an educator?
My own kids. I worked in the classroom as a parent volunteer and decided it was something I would enjoy. I was a super volunteer--in the classroom a lot—so was well aware of what I was getting myself into.
What do you like most about teaching?
Getting to know the kids and watching what they do in life. I keep in contact with a number of students after they leave high school and it is always interesting to see what they finally do—jobs, kids, marriages. The connection with the kids makes me feel like I have a large family and enjoy being connected with them for many years. I also love to see when kids make connections to learning. When they “get” something they had struggled with in the beginning. It is fun to see light bulbs go off!
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
The amount of things that teachers are responsible for—beyond teaching. We need to monitor whether they are completing all their requirements, have plans for students who fail, deal with all the issues—homelessness, family life issues, poverty, and having a diverse student body—that didn’t used to be such a problem. There are many layers to teaching and each year districts have different emphasis and things they want us to do. Each thing is small, but when you add them up, it is much larger.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
It is by far the hardest job I have ever done. I have not taught my whole life and have had many other jobs, but this is the hardest. First of all, you are never alone. We have kids with us all the time and there is little privacy. People think a teacher works short hours and have summers off, but in reality, we work many more hours and spend a lot of our summers taking classes and planning for the next year. Summers are really more like 2 months. Think of summer vacation like a weekend—June is Friday where you spend a good part of the month working and then have the evening off, glad to relax a bit; July is like Saturday where you get all your chores done and take some time enjoy your own family and friends; August is like Sunday were you are getting ready for the next week of work. Then on top of all that, there is planning and grading. You are either planning your next lessons or evaluating what your students have done. All this takes time and if you are good at your job, you are prepared and don’t have kids just sitting around. Don’t forget, we also have to constantly be taking classes or seminars to get trained on the latest and greatest, usually on your own dime and time. I’m not aware of any other profession that has to prove to the public that there are qualified and doing a good job.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I teach AP Government and Politics and Contemporary World Issues, both in the social studies department. I had an excellent student one year who was intent on becoming an engineer. I kept telling her that I felt she would do better in the social studies area, but she insisted she was a math/science person and that was where she was going. She went off to college and I didn’t hear from her for a couple of years and then I had her brother. We got to talking and she came to visit in her senior year and she was graduating with a degree in Anthropology, a social science major. I was not surprised. I also felt vindicated and validated in my assessment of her.