Community in Action: Meet the Teachers of The Wall Center Gives Back 2017

Dr. Simeon Wall Jr. with staff members holding certificates

Each year at The Wall Center, we like to engage our community and give back to worthy causes through The Wall Center Gives Back. This past year, our theme was The Wall Center Gives Back to Ark-La-Tex Teachers. Teachers from all over the Ark-La-Tex region were able to register to be a part of this campaign in which they would fundraise and we would match what they raised dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000. It was a huge success. With the help of our community, the 50 registered teachers raised almost $11,000, bringing the total campaign to $21,000!

We wanted to get to know some of these incredible teachers a bit better and find out how The Wall Center Gives Back to Ark-La-Tex Teachers has impacted their lives. These are the teachers who raised the most money, and now they’re ready to put it to good use.

Monica Ardoin, Youree Drive Middle School

  1. What grade and/or subject do you teach? I teach 6th grade advanced Reading and English language Arts at Youree Drive Middle School. 
  2. What inspired you to choose this profession? Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I would spend hours playing school and “teaching” my dolls in my room. When I started college, I decided that I wanted to go into the medical field and become a doctor. After my first year, I was not happy with my decision and knew where I truly needed to be. I changed my major to education and haven’t looked back since. I love working with children. I love seeing that “light bulb” moment when they finally figure something out. Watching them grow and change over the course of a year is amazing. I consider it an honor to be able to spend so much time with such amazing young people.
  3. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher? My most rewarding experience…that is a hard one. There are so many rewarding experiences daily with my students that go along with my profession! If I had to choose one, I would probably go with being selected as Teacher of the Year for the 2016-2017 school year. It was such an honor because I was selected by the members of the faculty at Youree. To know that my co-workers recognize the passion that I have for teaching was very rewarding.
  4. What is one of the most challenging parts of being a teacher? One of the most challenging parts of being a teacher is keeping things new and interesting for the students while also trying to do all of the things mandated by the state. The challenge is finding ways to still complete the task at hand but to do so in a way that reaches the students and piques their interest. If I have my students complete independent work daily and not interact, they are not interested or invested in the material, which in turn means that they are not truly learning. That is where technology enters into the picture. This is why I am so very grateful to The Wall Center for their amazing contribution!
  5. How do you plan on spending the money you received from The Wall Center Gives Back to Ark-La-Tex Teachers? The money that I received from The Wall Center Gives Back will be put towards Chromebooks for my classroom! This will allow every student in my classroom to have a device at their fingertips every day without having to bring their own from home. This is a huge! For my students, this means things such as instead of writing a written response on paper, they can now do the same response on Google Classroom or maybe blog about what went on in the story instead of writing chapter summaries. The possibilities are endless now that all of my students will have access during class every day.
  6. How did it feel when you received your check? I was very excited to receive my check! It was a little surreal that a local business was being so generous in giving back to area teachers. I couldn’t wait to get back to school and order all of my new technology! The best part was getting to tell my students about our amazing gift that we received from The Wall Center and how we are going to put it to use.
  7. Any final thoughts about this experience? I cannot thank The Wall Center enough for this experience. Not only is it going to help my students, but it was a fun, working-together experience for my class, family, and friends. Without them, I would not have had any donations to be matched, and I am grateful to each and every one that donated. The amazing team at The Wall Center has impacted my classroom more than they could ever imagine, and I am forever grateful.

Kathy Knight, Hope High School

  1. What grade and/or subject do you teach? I teach Social Studies at the high school level. This year I am teaching Civics and Geography, primarily to 9th graders.
  2. What inspired you to choose this profession? The moment it hit me that I wanted to be a teacher I was almost 40. My husband and I were taking our kids and a couple of their friends to church. The 6th – 8th graders in the back seat were bemoaning their history homework. “It was SOOO boring.” I immediately chimed in that history was exciting.  I began to tell them things about our country and asked them to imagine what it was like, etc. One of the boys, Thomas, said, “Mrs. Knight, if teachers told us things like you just did I would like it. Can you just be a teacher?” I thought about it and after church my husband and I discussed it. We prayed about it and decided that if I should be a teacher, God would let me know. The next day I went to the community college in town to see what it would take for me to become a teacher.  I came home a couple of hours later with 2 semesters of college already paid for, so we took that as a sign. I love my career.
  3. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher? There are several rewarding experiences I’ve had as a teacher, but the one that stands out the most, and the one that re-energizes me for teaching was this Facebook message I received 2 years ago from Alvin. Here is the message Alvin sent. Hey Mrs. Knight. Remember me. I just wanted to let you know what I have been up to since graduating high school. […] I major in mass media and would like to become a sports writer/journalist. In your class, my skills as a writer really started to flourish. You were honestly one of the greatest teachers at Hope High and was personally my favorite teacher. Thanks for seeing my intelligence as a student and thank you for always pushing me to go far in life. Outside of my immediate family, thank you for making me the young man I am today. […] But I just wanted to say thanks for making 2008-2011 some of the greatest learning years of my life and I am glad to have had you as a teacher. Hope all is well with you and yours. I love you, Mrs. Knight.
  4. What is one of the most challenging parts of being a teacher? The most challenging part of being a teacher is paperwork. The most frustrating part is not always having the time or funds to do what you would like with your students, like field trips and hands-on activities. 
  5. How do you plan on spending the money you received from The Wall Center Gives Back to Ark-La-Tex Teachers? In addition to being a classroom teacher, I am also the robotics coach at our school. The money raised was specifically for our robotics team. We have entered the FIRST Robotics Competition and this comes with an entry fee of $5,000 plus travel, hotels, and food for 20 – 30 students.
  6. How did it feel when you received your check? I was so excited.  My first stop was to my principal, Mr. Bill Hoglund, and he was very excited. Later I was able to tell all the robotics team and everyone is elated.
  7. Any final thoughts about this experience? This was a great experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you so much for doing this for us.

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