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Erin Kelly-Pearson

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Erin Kelly-Pearson


My freshman year, I was an anxious, paranoid fourteen year old, deathly afraid of high school. I remember vividly the terror of the idea, or at least what I had seen and heard. It was no help that popular culture embraces the clichés of high school: the mean, popular cheerleaders, jocks stuffing nerds into lockers, and sitting alone at lunch. I entered Blue Valley Northwest High School with the full expectation that I was walking into the depths of hell. Erin Kelly-Pearson, or EK as she is more commonly known, changed all that.
BVNW sponsors a wonderful program called Rookie Camp, which is used to introduce incoming freshman to the halls of Northwest, in thinking that we will all be brain-washed in believing high school is fun – yes, fun. I signed up for the program merely because my friends were going. As I approached the giant, ominous building, awaiting my fate, I could hear a loud, shrill voice coming from inside. When I entered, it was not Satan standing there, but a short, blonde woman screaming her head off at a mass of stunned freshmen. In effort to immediately heighten herself, she was standing on a pillar, smiling down at us with anticipation. We played ice breakers (an attempt at making everyone feel comfortable) and the dreaded “name games”. We toured the school; a giant compared to our familiar middle school, and ate candy together. Finally, the afternoon came to a close, and we received our locker numbers and schedules for next week’s freshman orientation. Examining my schedule, I saw that my Honors Communication Arts I (a.k.a. English) teacher was a lady named EK; seventh hour. When I asked one of my friends whom she had for CA, she replied, “I have EK, too, she’s that hyper lady who greeted us at the door!” I was astounded. I could only imagine the teaching style of this woman who treated our presence at Rookie Camp as if she were meeting the president. Oh, how ignorant I was of the events to come.
Our first class period with EK was anything but normal. Upon arrival to her classroom, decorated in a beach theme (complete with grass skirts lining the wall and a small cabana table with chairs in the corner), loud pop music greeted us and a shock of something smelling sweet enchanted our senses. The whiteboard was adorned with different colored markers displaying agendas and instructions for what to do when we walked in the door. After the bell rang and I was seated with my friends, we did not see EK anywhere in the classroom. We all began to whisper in our small groups, wondering where the teacher was. All of a sudden, the door flew open, and that familiar short blonde woman jumped out from the hallway, and screamed “HI YOU GUYS!!!! ARE YOU READY FOR 7TH HOUR HONORS CA???” We could hardly believe it, here was this petite ball of unwavering energy, smiling at us with her sparkling blue eyes and sporadic hand motions. We were all so stunned, our mouths gaping open and eyes wide with amazement. EK was the only teacher that day who seemed genuinely excited to see us and ready to teach us lessons we would need for the rest of our lives.
And the first day of school wasn’t the only time she was hyper – every. single. day. I do not remember an individual moment during my freshman year saying “Wow, CA was really boring today”. EK never allowed class be dull, whether we were going over vocabulary, reading a book, or taking notes. Room 106 represented a desire to learn, and to achieve more than we ever had previously thought possible. EK didn’t just make learning “fun” or “easy”, but addicting.
As our first year of high school CA, we were required to read a myriad of books, like Anthem by Ayn Rand. Although these sorts of books would normally be considered as uneventful to average fourteen year old, EK elaborated on them so that they were real. We cared for the characters in those books as if they were our own. When the time came to create similar characters, EK prepared us to do so. I personally (unlike some of my peers) enjoy reading and finding those so called “Aha!” moments and discovering new things in books. I almost jumped out of my seat while reading Anthem, when Equality renamed himself Prometheus for his new environment. This created an allusion to Greek mythology in how Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals, an action imitated by Equality. EK and I share a passion for making those connections and rejoicing in them, which has inspired me to create those connections in my own writing.
EK did not only create a wonderful learning environment, but she also created a special haven for her students. She was always ready to talk, but more so, ready to listen. If we had a problem, EK would listen with the closest attention to detail, and treat us with the utmost respect. I always have felt comfortable talking to EK about anything, not just grades or school. Even now as a sophomore, I stop to pay a visit to Room 106 when I can.
I will always be grateful to EK for changing my view of the high school experience and sparking a desire in me to learn, and to gain more from my already generous educational opportunities. EK has encouraged me to become a better student, a better reader, a better writer, and a better person. I can only hope someday I will be able to do the same for someone else. Thanks, EK





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