Giving up not an option for teacher

February 07, 2005|by JULIE E. GREENE

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a monthly series highlighting excellent educators in Washington County high schools. Next month: Smithsburg High School.

HAGERSTOWN- When Linda Stouffer's children were attending school in Montana, there were things she liked and some she didn't.

"The things I didn't like, rather than complaining, I thought maybe I should learn to do it better and do it myself," Stouffer said.

One of those things she wanted to do better was meet the individual needs of students, she said.

North Hagerstown High School Principal Robert "Bo" Myers said Stouffer, one of the school's English teachers, is "extremely patient."

"She works so hard to share her love of the English language with her kids. It doesn't matter if she's got a high-level group or group of youngsters in the past that were distinguished in literature or English, she gets them to share her passion," Myers said.


Recalling one of the reasons she became a teacher, Stouffer said her daughter was a rather precocious child and because of her behavior, she was held back academically.

"What she really needed was to be in an accelerated reading group" that challenged her, said Stouffer, 56, of Hagers- town. The public school had her daughter reading three levels below where she should have been, so Stouffer put her in a private music school.

Stouffer went to the University of Montana, where she earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education with minors in English and K-12 reading. She received a master's degree in liberal arts from Western Maryland College while teaching at North High.

When the family moved here approximately 20 years ago to be closer to relatives, Stouffer began teaching at North High. In addition to teaching various English and literature courses, she works with the School Improvement Team and is a member of the Crisis Team.

"I think if people see something wrong, they shouldn't complain about it. They should do something about it," Stouffer said.

Senior Amanda Bond said she started the 2003-04 school year not turning in assignments and was falling behind in her classes.

Stouffer helped her get back on track by staying on her case and reminding her to turn in her work, Bond said.

"She tells it like it is. She's an honest teacher ... one of my favorite teachers," said Bond, 17, of Hagerstown.

If Stouffer sees a student not accomplishing what she thinks he can do, Stouffer said she will approach the student individually.

She'll ask what he thinks should be done so he will be happy with his performance, she said.

Stouffer said 98 percent of the time, that student knows and the two work together to fix it.

With the other 2 percent, who don't know or don't care, Stouffer doesn't give up either, she said. She calls home, but she doesn't always get a good response.

"It's hard to help a kid who's given up and you don't have anybody at home to help," Stouffer said.

"Giving up is just not an answer and that's what I tell the child. It's just not an option here. What if we all gave up?" Stouffer said.

"Usually, when they realize I'm not going to give up, they give in," she said.

The Herald-Mail Articles