Samantha Manning really liked her education courses in college, but fell in love with teaching after being around the kids. It’s what we find over and over again, teachers love what they do because they are passionate about kids and helping them be the best they can be.
“The more education courses I took, the more I fell in love with teaching. I was hooked forever after being in classrooms around children.”
Samantha is a wonderful example of that kind of love and passion for her students.
She is a science teacher at Mortimer Jordan High School.
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Samantha Manning: I became a teacher after wanting to be a physical therapist my entire childhood. I was in my sophomore year at UAB and taking anatomy when I began to regret that decision. During an anatomy lab that was rather uncomfortable and bloody I decided the medical field was not for me. I left the anatomy lab and walked to the education building where I immediately changed my major to education.
The more education courses I took, the more I fell in love with teaching. I was hooked forever after being in classrooms around children. They were always excited to see me, and I was excited to see them too! That’s when I knew without a doubt that being a teacher was what I would do with the rest of my life.
I am still a little scarred from that day in the UAB anatomy lab, but my heart was forever changed when I realized the impact a child could have on my heart.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Samantha Manning: There are many things I enjoy about being a teacher including making lessons that are engaging, using my creativity to break up the mundane day for kids, and being able to be that weird science teacher and it be socially acceptable!
While all of these are parts of my job that I love, one thing stands out: I teach to make an impact on lives. I love seeing the impact that I have made on our future generation. I enjoy having student relationships outside the walls of the school. It is such an honor for me to be invited to ball games, recitals, and even weddings of former students. Knowing that I had a positive impact on a life is what keeps me coming back to the classroom year after year.
I know that some day my students will forget what the mitochondria does and how to find potential energy, but they hopefully won’t forget that I genuinely love them and want to see them succeed in all they do in their lives.
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself, “this is why I teach?”
Samantha Manning: There are many moments throughout the years that make me think “This is why I teach”. In the classroom it’s when the lightbulb goes off in a student’s mind and they understand a hard concept. There’s nothing quite like that moment in the classroom. You can see the wheels turning in student’s mind and then there’s that moment when they understand what they are doing, and it all just clicks. It’s a magical moment!
The educational moments are special, but there’s also times that are more mental and emotional accomplishments for students. I am often called the teacher therapist by students. Many of my kids come to me to talk through problems and express concerns about life. It’s a special moment when they overcome an emotional obstacle and they share that joy with me. I love being a part of their lives.
There’s so much more to being an educator than teaching concepts. I want my kids to be well rounded emotionally and educationally. Anytime I can help a student with either of those things, it’s a special moment.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Samantha Manning: The pandemic has presented several challenges in the world of education. I think it has set the social mentality of students back. I have found that after being isolated for so long, the ability to solve problems in socially acceptable ways is below what students were capable of before the pandemic.
Many times, students lack empathy for others. Students have also become incredible cheaters! They are able to cheat on anything and everything. The use of technology increased after coming back from virtual learning and students have access to numerous resources that aid in cheating in the classroom. It has made my job difficult at times.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Samantha Manning: The one thing that people should know about teachers is most teachers teach to make an impact, not teach content. We fight for students’ well-being, we worry about them, and we love to see them succeed.
I love my students as if they were my own children, and most teachers I associate with feel the same. We pray for our kids, lose sleep over our kids, and hope for a brighter future for our kids.
Teaching isn’t a job or career, it’s a lifestyle.