Amy Baker teaches business, marketing and finance at Frenship High School in Wolfforth, Texas, but she is really in the business of helping students find their passion and giving them the tools to pursue it. Her consumer-oriented students easily relate to the subjects she teaches—sports marketing, retailing, e-tailing, advertising—but, it’s the larger lessons of persistence, empathy and leadership she imparts that distinguish her teaching and earned her the recognition as a National Society of High School Scholars Claes Nobel 2014 Top Ten Educator of the Year.
Ms. Baker recently answered some questions about her philosophy and experience to share with the NSHSS community.
Q: What inspired you to become a teacher?
I was inspired by my ninth grade English Teacher. He was the first person who saw my potential and pushed me to grow. He was caring, involved and enthusiastic about his subject. He used theme-based instruction to introduce literary themes and essential vocabulary. We learned about the Titanic, local murder-mystery stories and the Holocaust. For the first time in my life I knew I was someone special and wanted to leave my mark on the future of society. I knew after that year I would become a teacher. I wanted to be just like him.
Q: What do you love about being an educator?
I love seeing kids change. I love watching students who are afraid and unsure of their abilities emerge as confident and expressive individuals. I love watching students who are passionate about a particular subject push beyond classroom requirements to reach for greatness. I love watching students who struggle finally find success. Outside of the family, I believe educators can have the greatest impact on a child’s life.
Q: What is the biggest challenge of being an educator?
The pressures and expectations for teachers are growing exponentially. Not only is there a burden to excel in your content area, but to master every demand and change within the educational spectrum. We must be supervisors, career counselors, therapists, managers, innovators and leaders. We are expected to meet the demands of parents, administrators, school board members and legislators, sometimes with very little support or thanks. Teachers are often the first to blame for a child’s inadequacies or a failing economy. BUT- we do it because, despite the challenges, we understand first-hand the critical importance of developing a well-rounded and productive member of society. In the end, it is all worth it!
Q: What is your greatest wish for your students?
My greatest wish for my students is to see beyond their own sphere of influence. Your past and your environment do not define you. Society’s failing ideals do not define you. Social media does not define you. Life is not just about YOU. It is about serving others, stretching beyond your comfort zone, learning to work in a global and diverse society and finding something you are passionate about. I teach my students to “Do what you love, and love what you do!”
Q: What do you see as the biggest benefit of an NSHSS membership for your students?
I wish all students would get involved with an organization like the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). NSHSS is committed to helping students find their passion and become more involved in the world around them. The organization recognizes student efforts through scholarships and award opportunities and provides valuable resources for students as they determine their chosen career path. I would encourage all teachers to talk to their students about joining NSHSS.