By Casey Petersen & Michael Callanan
There are so many amazing teachers here at Winthrop High School. We are fortunate to have a great staff here that are able to help us advance our education with each lesson. For this article, we (Casey Petersen and Michael Callanan) decided to spotlight a very talented teacher: Ms. Irvine! Ms. Irvine is an English teacher here at Winthrop High School and one of the co-advisors in the newspaper club. She is always someone that you can look forward to seeing in the hallways or in class, whether it be because of her friendly smile or her charismatic personality. We sat down with Ms. Irvine and asked her questions about her life and teaching career.
Why did you choose to become an English teacher?
Ms. Irvine: It’s actually kind of a funny story! I really was not a huge fan of high school or academics in general. I was relatively good and got good grades, so I was able to skate by, but it just wasn’t something I loved. I ended up going to college for human development and family studies — I had this dream to travel the world and help kids, but I didn’t really want to necessarily go to college… until I got there, and fell in love. I changed my major many times until I settled on journalism because I thought it was a good way to make an impact. Once I was graduating, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I didn’t love the way that journalism was going in the world, in the sense that I would have loved being a journalist when it was “pen-to-paper” but it was becoming more digital, with everyone using Twitter and overall it wasn’t really for me. I was deciding what to do, and I went into educational publishing for a little, because I had editing experience because I was a copy editor and I was a designer. I was reading all of these lesson plans for kids as part of my job, and I realized that I cared more about education than I had originally thought. I realized that nobody can get anywhere in the world without learning first. I started to realize that I had never wanted to be away from a classroom, and I would learn for the rest of my life if I could. The best way to be in a classroom is to teach, so that’s what I decided to do!
What are some of your favorite activities outside of work?
Ms. Irvine: I’m a very active person! I coach Crossfit on the outside world, so I really love to work out and help other people learn to work out and experience their health and fitness journeys. I love to hike, I love to run, and I am a big kayaker. I love to kayak in the summer and I would spend all of my time on a river if I could. I’m a big reader, I love to cook, and I love to hang out with my family’s puppy. But for the most part, I just would love to be outside all of the time if I could.
What is your favorite book and why?
Ms. Irvine: I have so many favorite books, it’s such a difficult question! My favorite books to teach would be… my unit on To Kill a Mockingbird is usually a really good one, I find it to be very impactful and it’s something really close to my heart because that was one of my favorite books when I was in high school, so it’s fun to share that with other people. I know that classics are looked at as boring nowadays, so I like to share that. I know it’s not everyone’s favorite and it does have some controversy around it, but teaching it is nostalgic for me and very fun. I also like to teach The Great Gatsby because my students really like it, so I find that fun. Books that I’ve read myself that are my favorite books, I have, like, a thousand. I read all the time; I have book lists to read! I really love Where The Crawdads Sing, that’s one of my favorites. Mr. Palen actually just hooked me onto a book last year, called The Heart’s Invisible Furies, and that’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. The Kite Runner is one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read, I really loved The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of my favorite books of all time. I have so many! I feel like when I go back and read this article, I’ll be like, “Ugh, I should’ve said this one!” I just love books that tell a really good story, for lack of a better word.
Do you believe that where you grew up affected your job choice/your decision to become a teacher?
Ms. Irvine: I think where you grow up and where you come from really affects everything, so it would be naive of me to say no. I can’t sit here and be like, “No, it definitely didn’t.” I don’t think I realized it at the time, and I know that I’m a very privileged person. I came from an affluent community with a very good education system, and without that really great education, I probably wouldn’t have had the knowledge of the English language and literature that I do. I definitely credit some of that to my high school and I would be remiss not to… Looking back on my teenage years, which were very difficult for me, I assumed it was because of high school and the actual education system. In reality it was just because being a teenager is hard, but I had a lot of awesome teachers that got me through that. I guess that yes, I would say that it did… but when I was there, I don’t think that I noticed it as much.
Those are all of the questions that we asked Ms. Irvine! We hope that you enjoyed reading and learning more about one of our talented teachers at this school. Whether you see her in the hallway or the classroom, Ms. Irvine is always going to be a kind face for you to talk to. Thank you Ms. Irvine!