‘Students are our future leaders:’ Two area teachers making a difference in their classrooms

Viangie Gibson and Heather Stambaugh keep students engaged through hands-on learning.

Two Springfield-area teachers are making a difference in their district and in their classrooms.

The teachers are working to make learning fun and keep students engaged by practicing their foreign language skills and using history class to build a museum display.

The Springfield News-Sun is highlighting a small portion of the teachers in our community this week. Here are two more teachers who are making a difference in the classroom for their students.

Viangie Gibson

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Viangie Gibson, Spanish teacher at Kenton Ridge High School, helps students put their skills into practice by using authentic material to make real connections between Spanish and students to help them better understand the language and culture.

“In my classroom, it’s important to me to include everyone. I hope to build rapport with my students and their guardians by respecting and listening to them,” Gibson said. “My students state every year how appreciated they feel inside and outside of my classroom. They appreciate my honesty with them and the effort I put into knowing them as well as creating effective, meaningful lessons to engage them.”

To make learning fun, Gibson incorporates a lot of hands-on activities while learning, including skits, songs, dances, cooking, and celebrating different holidays from Latin America. One activity her students enjoy most is collaborating with another teacher, Mrs. Moore, in the Global Foods class. The two spend a week before the collaboration making plans to incorporate the Hispanic culture and authentic meals and then bring it to life.

“The kids love this activity, and it gives Mrs. Moore and me and chance to meet and work with students that we may not see on a daily basis,” she said.

Another activities students get to do is to use what they’ve learning in the classroom outside in the community by working at Hispanic festivals, host different church events, collect and donate goods to local outreach programs, host guest speakers from different countries in the classroom, participate in immersion days, and have an opportunity to take three educational trips outside of the U.S. This past year, Gibson said they participated in a project where they were able to raise $2,500 that provided housing programs, trade jobs, healthcare funds and education programs in Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Not only does Gibson teach Spanish hands-on, but she also works with Hispanic families in the district to help with help with registration, IEP meetings, conferences and any other forms of communication needed throughout the year.

“On a daily basis, I get to do what I love the most and that is to share my knowledge and passion with my students. I’m blessed with the relationships that I have with them and the impact that they have made in my life. My students always come prepared to do the work and give their best and that makes everything I do worth it,” she said.

Heather Stambaugh

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Heather Stambaugh teaches 10th grade American Studies at Greenon High School, including a new course where students will build a history museum display.

The Living Local History class has 14 students who will be researching and building a final project that they’ve explored as a result of Stambaugh’s participation in the Rural Experience in America program.

“I love sharing my passion for history with students, but it is especially meaningful to see them excited and participating with history. Students are our future leaders and voters, knowing where our country has been helps them see where we are and then they get to take the lead on where we go,” she said.

The program, offered by the National Council for History Education, was designed to explore what is rural and what the experiences are of rural communities and students. The focus was on civic action, so the class project will give back to the community.

Students will decided a topic to explore and research, which can be anything the students want as long as they can accomplish it.

“This is a fluid project so I cannot be sure how it will shake out in the final iteration, but I envision at least a three ‘wall’ structure that has signage, displays, and artifacts (real or recreated). We are also going to explore re-enactment and digital options to potentially incorporate as well,” Stambaugh said.

Stambaugh said they are planning to go on field trips to the Enon and Clark County Historical Societies as they will be important in the research portion, and they will also take a trip to explore the archive and archive materials. Once a topic is decided, the historical societies may also be asked for advices on the final build.

Stambaugh said she feels likes she is making a difference in her classroom because it’s more than just history.

“Our conversations always leave me thinking and wanting to do and be better for my students because I see them growing too. It’s more than history though, it’s getting to see how students develop into young adults as the year progresses,” she said.

About our series

This series highlighted how teachers are making a difference in the classroom. The Springfield News-Sun will feature other teachers through Wednesday.

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