Karen Halmos: Hero

July 18, 2013
By Atropos GOLD, Kingsville, Other
Atropos GOLD, Kingsville, Other
18 articles 0 photos 22 comments

Favorite Quote:
A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.
Oscar Wilde


Kingsville District High School is a school filled with talented and colourful characters. From our incomparable tech department to the math teacher who wore a cape to the student-teacher volleyball game last year, there are plenty of interesting people and plenty of talent. Miss Karen Halmos stands out amongst them.

Miss Halmos is a local legend of sorts. Going into KDHS, I didn't know much – I didn't even know enough to not get lost in a school that's essentially a square with a bar in the middle – but I knew the drama teacher. Everyone knows her name, and everyone knows her drama kids love her to death.

In grade ten, I took my first drama class, and I had no idea when I set foot in that classroom – late, I may add, after having gotten myself lost again – just why she had such a loyal following. As soon as you enter Halmos's Tower of Doom, as she calls it from time to time, you feel accepted. You leave insecurity and rudeness at the door, because Miss Halmos demands tolerance and politeness. After a while, you find yourself going above and being what she expects. After a while, you find yourself a member of a tight-knit family, striving to do well by Miss Halmos, the matriarch, on a personal level. There is no insolence, not only because she sends offenders to the office, but because she truly feels like a mother. After all of the kindness and love she gives out, disappointing her is the last thing any drama kid would do.

Those of us who know her struggles only appreciate her that much more. I wouldn't have had any idea how hard she has it at our seemingly sugar and spice school if I didn't have an older sister who was there to see how The Man tries to push Miss Halmos down. The drama room is upstairs, in a hallway that would be completely out of use if The Man had his way. Because Miss Halmos refused to give up a room that was not only the most appropriate – it was a sewing room back in the day, so it has a raised platform at the front we use as a stage – but symbolic of the positive world she's built up, she got on The Man's bad list. Without her room, she's a nomad in the school, forced into the music rooms – death scenes are much less fun when you have to fall onto a carpet marinated in saliva from various spit valves – or other classrooms. The drama family is still a family crawling in spittle, but sweeping an entire department under the carpet so completely was not okay. When she finally won the battle to keep her room, the war was still not over. She dutifully cleaned her own room every day as The Man wouldn't pay the janitors to do so. She scrounged for unused chairs around the school because every request she sent in for new chairs was denied or ignored. Over the last year, we saw her emerge victorious – her room is being cleaned now, and she has some beautiful new blue chairs that all match and don't fall apart – in battles she'd been waging for much longer than my sister was aware of. Although, there's always some new trouble for Miss Halmos.

My parents were amazed at my sister's graduation how many students hugged Miss Halmos – who was up on the stage to help present two awards – when they went onstage to receive their diplomas. I wasn't amazed, only proud to be part of such a caring, passionate community, and grateful to her for taking the time to touch the lives of so many grads and so many future grads.

I remember our last day of Drama last year. She had us all stand and look at the stage. She delivered a beautiful, heartfelt speech about how immensely proud and impressed she was of our progress. I think we all cried. She took the time to connect to us on a personal level, and that's why we did so well. We wanted her to be proud of us. We wanted to impress her and have that beautiful, tearful goodbye. Even those who first came into her Tower of Doom just wanting an arts credit were moved.

Not only was she a second mother to many of us, she was a teacher. Through the year we did more than just bond. We learned how to be a performer, how to act, and learned all the boring things in the curriculum from an actual actress, who made it all much less boring. Miss Halmos didn't sacrifice her duty for friends. She went above and beyond what any normal teacher would do to treat us like we meant something.

Miss Halmos is one of the kindest human beings I've ever met, and one of the only adults I've known who can still remember how stressful it is to be a teen. She's understanding, loving, and spunky. She knows what's right and fights for it. In a system in which The Man will go out of his way to make every student a number and to make every teacher a drone, Miss Halmos stands out as a compassionate and strong educator. A hero for the history books, Miss Karen Halmos is the spirit of the school, and has touched more lives than she knows. Her legend will live on, even in a school where unusual is usual.


The author's comments:
Thank you to Miss Halmos, a fabulous teacher of both English and Drama.

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This article has 4 comments.


Janie345 said...
on Oct. 23 2013 at 5:30 pm
This article and its comments made my day. It's wonderful to see so many people united by one human. It's educators like Miss Halmos that change lives, and they all deserve this praise, and to know just how appreciated they are. Thank you for posting, to all the commenters for sharing, and to Miss Halmos for inspiring this. Truly wonderful.

halmos child said...
on Sep. 8 2013 at 9:28 pm
thank you so much for writing about my mom she is proud of all of you and loves you to death !!!  my mom is kind and  can be ........................... ! DRAMATIC!!! she is loving and is crazy funny. I hope other kids are as kind as you are to write such a wonderful things about somebody they care about . i konw this article meant the world to my mom. see you on the flipside Benny [im my moms son i had to say something at the end]

elliemoon said...
on Sep. 7 2013 at 12:11 am
I had Karen Halmos for drama back when she was Karen Nolin. I have had the priveledge of many wonderful acting teachers since, as I chose to pursue theatre acting for post-secondary. However, I still don't know that I have been so moved and influenced by any teacher as I was and continue to be by Halmos. I didn't know it at the time, as the class just felt like a fun, warm place to play - but aside from brightening up everyone's highschool experience: creating a safe space where social barriers can be erradicated, she teaches empathy through example. Empathy + risk taking is all that acting really is. I think the world of Karen and am so grateful to her for the impact she's made on my life. So happy to hear that the legacy continues. Whether or not you're serious about acting professionally, hers is a class with the capacity to change you fundementally as a person. To make you more sensitive, accepting and aware. And if you are serious about acting, her class will not give you a how-to book as many arts high school programs attempt to do (and unfortunately, are useless), but it will allow you the courage to start to figure it out for yourself. 
Everyone, take her class! 

on Jul. 30 2013 at 4:34 am
SoImAWriterNow BRONZE, Schenectady, New York
2 articles 0 photos 36 comments

Favorite Quote:
"But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie." -Khaled Hosseini

and

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend." Albert Camus

I really enjoyed this essay! I think I liked it so much because I could connect so well to what you wrote about. I have a teacher who means as much to her students as Miss Halmos does to you and your classmates. Teachers that look at their job as as not a job and the students as his/her kids are rare to find. And it seems like when they're found, The Man (I liked that you termed it like that) seems to want to quickly shove them in the background or "fix" them to be "normal". I hope this piece helps more students appreciate their teachers and teachers know how important they are to us. Thank You for writing it :)


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