50 Great Teachers – “Two Days Inside A Juvie Classroom”

After reading the article, “Two Days Inside a Juvie Classroom“, I now want to be this woman. This teacher, Lisa Elder, at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Vermont has made education something completely different. “At Woodside, they teach all the normal subjects: math, English, science. But this year Lisa is teaching something called Life Skills. I’ll let her explain: ‘If you want to wake up in the morning and go out and greet people,’ she says, ‘we’re already talking about skills right there.’ Life Skills means things like how to use a napkin, how to fill out a form with good handwriting, how to open a bank account.” This is so awesome and so incredible because these kids are so separated from the real world and it will be a difficult adjustment when they go back. So by being taught these super cool, important skills that are barely taught in normal high schools, they are so able to get into society and be a useful member of it. If these kids who are thieves, drug sellers, and felons, it will probably be really difficult to just submerge themselves back into our world, but what Lisa Elder is doing, she is making that transition easier.

Lisa Elder is also the teacher that most kids will actually do their work for. “‘I’ve been here at least four times,’ Emily says, referring to Woodside. She describes herself as a “handful” for her teachers and says some adults give her a hard time over her recurring troubles. But not Lisa Elder. ‘She wasn’t angry at me.’ Emily says she likes her life skills class. It’s not so much the class, the curriculum or the lessons, she says. It’s the teacher. ‘You can just tell she cares,’ Emily says. ‘No matter how mad you get, no matter how many names you call her. In the end, you know she cares.’ She repeats it again. ‘You just know she cares.’ It’s like she’s telling me, and reminding herself at the same time.” This is the teacher I want to be, and I’m sure everyone else does too. But this is a woman who is teaching valuable information while treating her students like real people and not just dumb students, and that is everything I stand for.


2 thoughts on “50 Great Teachers – “Two Days Inside A Juvie Classroom””

  1. Wow! She sounds amazing! She really captures what it means to be a teacher ally! I have always thought that it would be important to mandate a life skills sort of class. I think it is important for everyone to know how to change a tire, light a fire, open a savings account, and other things that are necessary for life yet are not taught in today’s educational system.
    I also hope that one day your students (and mine hopefully) will say the things that Emily did about Lisa. My life goal is to be more like Lisa, Kelly Burns, and Cindy. I think they are very powerful, important, inspiring women that deserve more recognition and praise than they get!
    Thank you for sharing!

  2. This is so inspiring! Sometimes (most times unfortunately) important life skills are lost in the rubble of content. Life skills can compliment content area and vice versa – and they are both equally as important. We as future teachers totally need to keep this idea at the forefront of our brains while embarking on our student teaching experience, and on into our first year as employed educators. We can change today’s education system for the better by having teachers like this as role models.

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