Meet several teachers who are working in the same schools they once attended as students.

Is there a greater testament to a school system’s significance than when a former student returns to work there as an adult? We talked to Hoover City Schools teachers who fit in this category about how it feels to mold the next generation of children in the schools that molded them.

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Stacia Berryhill



Brock’s Gap Intermediate School Teacher

2000 Hoover High School Graduate

Years Teaching: 7 in public and two in private schools

Favorite Memories as a Student: I loved going to Washington, D.C. in sixth grade! I also enjoyed attending special events in high school, such as pep rallies, prom, theater productions and football games.

Favorite Memories as a Teacher: I love “Read Across America” week when the students dress up and participate in several fun reading activities throughout the week. This school year, one of my favorite memories was our 3K Fun Run Day.

Best Part of Being Back: Seeing familiar teachers and principals.

What Has Changed or Not Changed: I love that technology is infused into every classroom now.

What You Like to Share About Your School: Our school is a very welcoming environment that embraces the diverse culture that makes up Hoover today.

 

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Jasmine Fenderson

 

Gwin Elementary School Fifth Grade Teacher

2011 Hoover High School Graduate

Years Teaching: 3

Favorite Memories as a Student: My favorite memory as a student was a teacher I had named Whitney Cook. Mrs. Cook taught me 6th grade math. Mrs. Cook’s sweet and compassionate spirit truly made an impact on my life. Her willingness to help, and patience for me as a student is something I will never forget. At the end of that school year Mrs. Cook moved to another state, and I thought I would never see or hear from her again. We exchanged addresses so that we could write and keep in touch. As a sixth grader you think there is no way that I matter enough for a teacher to write me after moving away, but to Mrs. Cook I mattered. We exchanged not one, but several, thoughtful letters as the years went on. Her thoughtfulness and compassion is one of the reasons I chose to become a teacher. I wanted to impact and care for my students just as she did for me. Mrs. Cook is now back home and is working as the district Coordinator of Curriculum.

Favorite Memories as a Teacher: My favorite memories as a teacher so far have been my students. There are so many students that I feel like not only did I get a chance to impact their life, but they impacted mine. From my first year of teaching to now, I can say that I have had the pleasure of teaching some of the most brilliant young people I have ever met in my entire life. Their willingness to learn and hunger for creating new things is something that is inspiring to me as an adult. To watch young people explore ideas and unlock their potential before your eyes is something that is truly breathtaking. Every year I meet new students and make new memories with them that truly take my breath away. So much, that I cannot just pinpoint one moment, but I can think of my experience as a whole as one beautiful memory I never want to forget.

Best Part of Being Back: The best part of being back is being about to see old teachers and even fellow classmates from years ago. I love seeing how we continue to evolve and work together for the well-being of our community. I am also proud to tell my current students that I went to Green Valley Elementary. Sharing that helps me to connect with my students because I know what it is like to be them. I also love when I can say to my 5th graders I went to Simmons, and I know what you have to expect for next year. Most of all I feel a great deal of pride when I tell anyone that I graduated from Hoover High School and that I am a product of this great city and school district.

What Has Changed or Not Changed: There have been many awesome changes that I recognize within our district. We have made some major technological improvements that are truly key in the instruction of our students. We have also moved forward in efforts to teach our teachers, and students the importance of diversity and acceptance. We have raised the bar to not only continue to educate our students, but the teachers are continuing to learn as well. One thing that has not changed is the feeling I get when stepping on the campus of Hoover High School, or even talking about out district to anyone at all. I have always been proud to be a part of the Hoover family, and it makes me even more proud to return back and serve my community.

What You Like to Share About Your School: There is so much to be said about Gwin, from our students, to our wonderful administration, to the teachers, and even parent volunteers. Our students are so bright and eager to learn. I am constantly amazed at the things that they are able to do, and even able to teach me. Our administration has a way of making us all feel like we are heard and important to them. They are always willing to listen and support us in anyway. The teachers here are one big family. We are like siblings working together for the common goal of the growing our students. Some days we even joke that this doesn’t feel like work because we are working with our friends. We also have amazing parents that are so involved and love working hand in hand with their child’s teacher to assist with anything we need. I truly love our school, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to be.

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Jennifer Speer

Rocky Ridge Elementary School Special Education Teacher

2000 Hoover High School Graduate

Years Teaching: 11

Favorite Memories as a Student: Football games, I loved the social part of them. I was also the second graduating class from Hoover High School.

Favorite Memories as a Teacher: Watching my students do some amazing things. I love to watch them grow and feel successful.

Best Part of Being Back: Paying it forward. I had some teachers who really made an impact in my life. I hope I can do the same for my students.

What Has Changed or Not Changed: Technology! When I was at Hoover High you had to go to the library to use the computer. Now Hoover is 1:1.

What You Like to Share About Your School: I am very proud that Rocky Ridge achieved International STEM certification this school year.

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*Clark Underbakke

Trace Crossings Elementary School Second Grade Teacher

1988 W.A. Berry High School Graduate

Years Teaching: 26

Favorite Memories as a Student: I warmly remember the caring, compassionate, exemplary faculty at Bluff Park Elementary: Ann Hearon, Peggy Patton, Carol Shurbet, Gail Garner, Sara Bryan, Shirley Knight, Betty Jo Monroe, Lavoria Bushelon, Shirley Whitehead all under the direction of principal Jim Barron.

Favorite Memories as a Teacher: My favorite memories as a teacher are celebrating what my past students have accomplished.

Best Part of Being Back: I never left! I’m a proud member of the Hoover City Schools family.

What Has Changed or Not Changed: Many changes have come and gone, but the shared vision of providing students with a sound education is a constant.

What You Like to Share About Your School: Trace Crossings Elementary is a dynamic school with a talented faculty and staff. We strive to teach, reach and connect every day!

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Allison Dolan

Bluff Park Elementary School Library Media Specialist

2001 Hoover High School Graduate

Years Teaching: 14

Favorite Memories as a Student: I have so many happy memories of my time as a student at BPES like jumping for Jump Rope for Heart, singing in the choir and participating in French class. I think my favorite memory is the 5th grade pool party. The 5th graders walked from school down to our neighborhood pool after school one day at the end of the year (they still do this today!). I remember anticipating this event through the years and being so excited when it was finally my turn to attend.

Favorite Memories as a Teacher: My very favorite experience in teaching is the moment right after I’ve been reading aloud to the students and they collectively gasp and exclaim, “Don’t stop!” I love the feeling of knowing they’ve been completely engaged in the story and the joy of knowing this is helping to build a lifetime of loving reading.

What Has Changed or Not Changed: The biggest change for me is the school itself! I was in the old Bluff Park and now I’m teaching in the newest part of Bluff Park Elementary. As for things that haven’t changed, many people don’t realize how many traditions at Bluff Park Elementary are still carried out after all these years. When I was a student at BPES, we had French classes and the school now has Spanish as part of its curriculum. We took an overnight field trip similar to the Dauphin Island trip students take now. We had the Buddy Pals program then and now that allows older students to read and work with younger students in the school. We still have a school store run by the student council and an annual fall festival (now called the Outdoor Classroom Social). There are so many traditions that I love that we still have today.

What You’d Like to Share About Your School: One of the most treasured aspects of our school is its neighborhood and community feel. Many families walk to school in the mornings and you’ll find families meeting up at the park each day after school lets out. The sense of community is something that I loved as a student and I love now as a teacher. I am most looking forward to having my daughters here with me and being able to watch them experience so many of the traditions and activities that I loved then and now. That will be my best part of being back – being here with my girls and watching them grow at my school making wonderful memories of their own.