5 High School Teachers Making a Difference in 2017

The profession of teaching is both a hallmark of, and requirement for, civilization. While it may often go underappreciated – or even unappreciated – educators help to forge a better world through the instruction of everything from information literacy to advanced astrophysics.

Most educators enter the field out of a desire to teach, train, and help a new generation find their place in the world. Some of these educators go and above beyond the call of classroom duty, becoming thought leaders in their profession and making major contributions to the development of education as a field and teaching as a practice. Here are five high school teachers making a difference in 2017.

Sarah Hagan

Sarah Hagan teaches at Drumright High School in Oklahoma. A high school serving a poor rural community, Hagan has transformed her mathematics classroom into a visually engaging and learning-intensive environment where students learn everything from quadratic equations to polynomials in fun and inventive ways. Hagan often stays after school to help students with their homework – even if it’s not for her class. While Hagan admits that her job sometimes brutalizes her, she still adores it – and is dedicated to helping the teens of Drumright forge better lives.

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John Dolleslager

John Dolleslager teaches high school physics, math, and chemistry in Thompson, North Dakota. Fervently of the belief that he works not for the school or for his paycheck, but for his students, Dolleslager sets out to instill life-changing knowledge into his students and help them apply what he teaches to their own lives. He even takes his students on field trips to demonstrate his lessons’ applications in the world outside the classroom.

Dani Rowekamp

Dani Rowekamp teaches medical careers at Red River High School in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Intent on teaching her students real and relevant skills, she takes her students to do clinicals, on tours of medical and nursing facilities, and provides them with anything else may help them to develop skills relevant to the medical profession. She is among the most beloved teachers at Red River, and often finds herself running into students she taught who have entered nursing or medicine after being inspired by her classes.

David Montes

David Montes is civics teacher at Nixon High School in Laredo, Texas. He himself is a graduate of Nixon, and was inspired to become a teacher by the principal of the school at the time who counseled him to earn his teaching degree and come back to teach at the high school. Montes was paralyzed in high school when he broke his neck playing football for Nixon, and chose to pursue a teaching career in lieu of sportsmanship. Montes has won numerous awards for his teaching, and is much loved by his students, who praise his teaching methods as fun, engaging, and relevant.

Millicent “Mama” Hill

This extraordinary teacher taught for many years – and after her retirement, decided to go on serving the kids in her community. She transformed her home into a youth community center where students in need can come for advice, food, academic assistance, or simply a safe haven if they are being bullied, threatened, or abused. Hill serves several thousand children in the Los Angeles area, and while she no longer teaches in a classroom, she is still changing young lives.

High school teachers provide an essential foundation for young people to launch careers, college degrees, or trade school certifications when they graduate. These five teachers show extraordinary dedication to their vocation, and have made a difference in the lives of hundreds – even thousands – of students, and will for years yet.