Reminiscing about everything from their last four years in high school while focusing on the next chapter of their lives describes a senior’s mindset at this time of year. For precalculus and AP Calculus AB teacher Harold Yager, this is currently a period of reflection too. After teaching for nearly 19 years, Yager has decided to move on to a new chapter of his life: retirement.
During his retirement, Yager plans to enjoy life by celebrating his son’s marriage and his 50th anniversary with his wife. One highlight of his teaching career he will miss is being around students.
“I always enjoyed just meeting with the kids, talking to them and seeing the interactions [and] doing that no matter what came up,” Yager said.
By using skills from his past careers in engineering, the military and business, Yager has been able to connect and teach students lessons in ways they better comprehend. Students like Makayla Benson (11) are thankful for his simple approaches to making learning easier.
“I like that he is consistent in his work,” Benson said. “We have the same routine every week, so I always know what I have going for the week.”
Upon reflection of teaching young minds throughout the years, Yager’s favorite part was seeing students’ reactions to understanding new material.
“Seeing somebody [light up] kind of like the light bulb goes off over their head … and suddenly realize, ‘Hey, I know how to do this,’” Yager said. “They start working and accomplishing things.”
Current and past students alike recognize that Yager has made a difference in their lives whether it is teaching them small or big lessons. For students like Merrick Miller (12), a unique thing about Yager was his overall manner and ability to encourage students to do their best.
“[His] attitude towards teaching is unlike many other teachers as you can tell that he truly enjoys his job and always goes above and beyond to care for his students,” Miller said. “He teaches … real-world skills with his math [and] always expresses the need for young students to work hard, a skill that is undoubtedly required as we age.”
Other students like Abner Fernandez (12) have gained more knowledge on a deeper level about how important education is both in and out of school.
“[Yager’s teaching] helped me in a way of seeing how teachers are very important in life and how we should appreciate them while we have them, how valuable work is and how we should help each other,” Fernandez said.
Although Yager is leaving the world of teaching behind, he hopes the future of education will continue to improve for students to be ready after high school.
“I think we tend to give everybody too many chances because they don’t get that many chances when they get out in the real world … Everybody is not a winner in real life, unfortunately,” Yager said. “As educators, we’re spending some time trying to teach the subject and forgetting to teach them about life. You have to be prepared for what it is going to be like when you’re outside of school, whether it be in a college environment, work environment, et cetera. It’s going to be very different, and there are not multiple chances.”
For some teachers, teaching can be a difficult job with balancing students’ interests and also teaching the curriculum on time. However, Yager believed teaching was a rather simple job due to his experiences in life around children.
“All my life I’ve been standing in front of people making presentations … It started to come naturally to me once I knew the subject area, then I felt pretty good about everything,” Yager said. “The [kids] help keep me and make me feel younger just by being around them, talking to them and listening to their problems, which I enjoyed coming to school for.”