To My High School Self

by Valerie Song for Silver Quest

High school can be a stressful and difficult time for many. Fortunately, teachers have invaluable advice and tips that they can bestow on high schoolers from their experiences in high school. To learn more about these resources and guide students throughout their high school careers are four of our brilliant Magnet teachers. 

James Street
Edward Kirk

Mr. James Street, who is now officially retired, taught Research and Experimentation. Even though he is retired, Mr. Street isn’t tired of advising students! If Mr. Street could turn back time and give advice to his high school self, he would tell himself not to make promises too early on. “You shouldn’t assume that this is definitely the way your life is going to go,” he says, referring to his promise in high school that he would never do something similar to industrial arts again. 

Perhaps Mr. Street is why the saying “with age comes wisdom” rings true. In college, his friend convinced him to take the shop class offered at the University of Maryland, where they learned hands-on engineering skills with tools. “The class was totally different than when I was younger,” he explains. “[Even though] the class itself was the same, my experience was different suddenly”. As he took more and more industrial arts classes in college, perhaps “a semester’s worth of shop time,” he found a passion for this subject. He also attributes his rekindled interest in industrial arts to “growing up a little bit and getting a little more mature and a little stronger and more coordinated.” He reiterates that “as a young teenager I was like, this is terrible. I'll never come back here again.” Reflecting on his past self, Mr. Street is glad that he stuck with teaching for all these years. In light of his retirement, “it’s mind-boggling to think that I really did this for all these years,” he exclaims. 

Mr. Street has not only been through high school himself but also has children who were once high schoolers, so he has a cornucopia of information for current students. When it comes to college preparation, Mr. Street urges them to choose a major that they are interested in, even if figuring that out takes time. For example, his youngest son was interested in engineering but spent a lot of time zeroing in on specific subfields he was interested in. This allowed him to delve deeply into his current specialization: bioengineering. 

Ms. Elizabeth Glenn teaches Magnet Biology, Marine Biology, Entomology, and Analysis of Equity and Identity in STEM. Everyone knows that Ms. Glenn has a vast knowledge of biology and animals, but did you know that she also has great advice for high schoolers? One thing she would tell her high school self is to change her study habits. When Ms. Glenn was in high school, she never needed to study because school was easy for her and because of this habit, she never learned how to learn. As a result, the transition from high school to college was hard. “I didn't know what to do at all. Maybe if I'd put in more effort and learn[ed] some skills and techniques, that would have served me really well,” she reflects. 

Of course, Ms. Glenn is extremely proud of her high school self, especially her mindset of being who she truly was and enjoying what she is passionate about. “If I wanted to do X, Y, or Z, I did because it made me happy and I followed that,” she says. Ms. Glenn has kept this high school mindset as an adult. “I love roller skating. I'm going to start Derby now and I'm like, the oldest person out there, and I'm still hanging in with it,” she says. “There's something about that because it's what I wanted to do and I'm passionate about and excited about it.” 

Believe it or not, young Ms. Glenn didn’t want to become a teacher because her mother was one. Ms. Glenn changed her mind about becoming a teacher in college because she and her principal investigator had a four-hour-long talk to decide what she wanted to do, stressing the importance of havinga mentor and guidance in life. Ms. Glenn wants to tell current high schoolers to enjoy and savor every moment of their childhood. “Soon enough, you're not gonna have summers,” she warns. 

Mr. Edward Kirk teaches Magnet Precalculus, Magnet Functions, and Analysis 1B. He was and still is, a busy person, serving as a teacher, marching band director, and not to mention a versatile instrumentalist. As a high schooler, he was on the cross country team, track team, swim team, marching band, and even a rock band! Even with so many activities in his life and a jam-packed schedule, “I don't regret it at all,” he says. 

Mr. Kirk is proud of his high school self for making good decisions and sticking to his own path. In high school, he wanted to quit the marching band because of the stigma that marching band kids aren’t popular. Ultimately, his band director convinced him to stay in the marching band, and “making that decision to stay in the marching band shaped the next eight years of my life,” he says. “I got over that and I stopped caring about how I still like obviously humans care about what other people think.” 

For current high schoolers, Mr. Kirk emphasizes the importance of having a mentor in your life. Upon entering college, Mr. Kirk didn’t know what he was going to do after college yet, but he knew that he liked math. It was his high school band director who helped him realize his potential and passion for teaching. 

Mr. Vikash Sahu teaches Algorithms and Data Structures A, Algorithms and Data Structures B, and Computer Science Principles. “I would tell my high school self to be more likely to question why certain beliefs are held and whether or not they are in fact true,” he says. As for advice to give current high schoolers, Mr. Sahu believes that good health, both mental and physical, is necessary and shouldn’t be “backseat to the commitments that you have like school, academic or otherwise.” In particular, he stresses the importance of sleeping enough (we’re pointing to you all who have questionable sleep schedules!), eating healthy, and exercising regularly. It’s also important that “you do a mental check-in with yourself about how you're feeling or what your emotions are,” he continues. To summarize the thoughts of his high school self, Mr. Sahu laughs, “he would think it's cool that I'm a teacher here.” 

Even though high school can be a daunting experience, words of wisdom and resources from teachers can help students ease the process. We should all make efforts to seek out the valuable insight our teachers give us to enhance our high school experience and maybe once in a while, listen to them.