Anne sees each student as an individual with unlimited potential
Anne House understands that teachers’ work goes beyond education to build individuals with lessons of caring that last a lifetime. Anne, a 1976 graduate of the McKay School at BYU, was honored at the White House by Hillary Clinton, but what Anne treasures most from her 33 years of teaching is her individual students. “Lately, with social media, some of my former students are finding me and we are reconnecting,” Anne said. “They often ask if I remember them. How could I forget a single one? I still have their class pictures on my office wall.”
She receives letters from previous students with a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles. A young man who came from an often violent home recently sent a letter explaining that he had found Anne’s classroom to be a safe haven in a troubled world. He credits much of his success today to Anne’s teaching. Another student came to visit her 14 years after being in her 7th grade junior high class. She says he had low scores and little motivation at the time, but she loved him and often wondered what had become of him after he moved away. When he came to visit her, he was in a well kempt suit and a silk tie. He wanted her to see him for what he had become, a successful man with a job and family. She was not surprised; despite his challenges she had always believed in him.
Anne sees each student as an individual with unlimited potential; she does her best to help each realize that potential. “There is no child who can’t learn. There is no child who doesn’t want to be appreciated and loved,” Anne said. “Every night I pray that I will know if there is a certain child who I should specifically help.”
Anne created a writing program called “Step Write Out” for her students while working in Yuba City, California. “The program looks like a red bulls-eye . . . with a picture of [the students] in the middle,” Anne said. “It gets them excited about writing because every paper, diary, list, letter, request, research [paper] and drawing—in short, everything they write—is created by and often about them.”
After completing the portion of the program about their own lives, students reach outside themselves and write letters to editors, athletes, and even the White House, which is how Hillary Clinton found out about Anne and her students. Students in Anne’s class, along with other children throughout the nation, would send letters to the Clinton’s cat and dog. Hillary Clinton compiled many of the letters that were received into a book titled Dear Socks, Dear Buddy. Three of Anne’s students’ letters were included in the final copy of the book. “The best part of this program, at this stage, is how excited the class became when students received a letter back, and they were able to read it to the class. It was a powerful lesson,” Anne said. Their writing efforts were noticed, whether it was from the lunch lady or the First Lady.”
Teach like you had to sit through your own class is Anne’s advice to students who are about to start their teaching career. “[Students] want to learn, to succeed, to feel loved, and to have the opportunity to shine,” Anne said. “Teach each the curriculum with rigor, but passion and humor too, and teach with music and art, but most of all, love the student.”
Anne House currently teaches at Mt. Ogden Jr. High in the Ogden City School District.
November 8, 2012