Like Teacher Like Student: History teacher Elliot Reid and senior Kaleigh Fleming both focus on their coursework, one as a graduate student and the other as a high schooler at North Atlanta.
At North Atlanta High School, students task themselves with various activities such as participating in extracurriculars, part-time jobs, and joining clubs, However, they are not alone in this pursuit to grow. Many teachers at North Atlanta have decided to enrich their education further by returning to school and earning their next degree. Attending graduate school while also teaching their own classes has helped them gain the perspective of their students while also teaching them different ways to approach their classroom environment. As graduate students, they are faced with the difficult task of balancing their life as a teacher and their life as a student.
Literature teacher Jennifer Page is currently working to get her doctorate in Educational Leadership. Page was inspired to go back to school by the members of her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and what they were able to pursue through challenging themselves. By taking her classes online, she is in the second year of a three-year program. However, this is no easy feat. On top of being a teacher, she is also the cheerleading coach and a coordinator for school events such as homecoming and prom. In order to balance this workload, she gives herself time to rest while being able to separate her daily tasks. “It may seem like I do a lot, but I’ve learned how to make life, life and work, work,” she said. “After learning to keep balance, I hold higher expectations for my students, because if I can handle it, I know they can.”
With a similar goal, literature teacher Casey Christenson is at Mercer University for her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. She has wanted to get her doctorate since she moved to Atlanta 16 years ago and is now in her fifth year of graduate school. One of the most challenging aspects of her work is being able to establish a solid routine in order to separate her life as a full-time teacher and a full-time student. These obstacles have also helped her because she has been able to share what she has learned with the students in her class. “I enjoy sharing things I’ve been taught with my students, whether it’s through an activity or discussion,” said Christenson. “I love being a student and I love learning, so when there’s something that sparks my curiosity and excitement, I bring it to the classroom.”
Also wanting to become a more intuitive educator, social studies teacher Elliot Reid has been taking classes to earn his Ph.D. in Political Science. With a dream of becoming a college professor, Reid has been in graduate school since summer 2023. After taking classes, he is more sympathetic towards students at North Atlanta as they try to balance multiple things at once. He has also learned the importance of preparation for graduate school and is trying to incorporate similar tactics his professor uses into his own classroom. By implementing a more hands-on approach, he is trying to get his students more accustomed to what they’re going to get at the next level. Reid appreciates the challenge his course has placed upon him and wants to prepare his students for that rigor. “Getting a PhD is exposing me to different learning styles, information, and analysis that I haven’t even thought about,” said Reid. “It also shows me how much I can prepare my students to be ready for college and beyond.”
While attending graduate school, many teachers at North Atlanta find themselves doing what they have once advised their students to do. Finding a balance between teaching and learning is certainly an obstacle, but not an impossible challenge. As teachers continue to learn from their grad school experiences, they carry these new skills with them to share with the North Atlanta students. North Atlanta commends their eagerness to further their education and encourages students to walk with the same mindset.