By Grace Bernstein
As the world is going through big changes, society as a whole attempts a new normal daily. With the changes in how education is perceived due to the necessity of distance learning, Oak Hall School has adapted to continue the excellence it is known for. The hiring of new teachers is especially important during this period. “I did my best to adapt to individual student needs and adjusted my instruction and expectations accordingly,” said April Palmer, Oak Hall Upper School’s new history teacher. After teaching at Williston High School for 13 years and Bronson High School for 5 years, both public schools, she returned to the city that taught her the craft of teaching. “I have been looking for a school that values the art of learning instead of ‘teaching to a test’,” she said. “Having autonomy in the classroom is extremely valuable to me, allowing me to focus on the joy of teaching and discovering students’ interests and passions,” Palmer explained.
Palmer attended the University of Florida to continue her education after she graduated from Bell High School, 40 miles Northwest of Gainesville. While studying at UF she “fell in love with Gainesville in the process”. She majored in sociology and secondary social studies education for her undergraduate and graduate work. If she had not become a teacher, Palmer believes she would have gone into the field of psychology or sociology.
The newest hire at the Upper School teaches an array of courses, from U.S. Government and Politics to AP Psychology. While her classes span all the grades in the Upper School, her favorite grade level to teach are juniors. “They are becoming mature young adults focusing on graduating and becoming involved and informed citizens,” Palmer noted.
Originally from Hamilton, Ohio her family moved to Bell when she was 5 years old. Her love for teaching came at a young age and developed as she got older. Her greatest satisfaction as a teacher occurs when students “achieve their goals and [realize] that they can overcome obstacles,” Palmer said.
In addition to the usual history posters adorning Palmer’s classroom walls, she created shelves to display her mass collection of Funko Pop! Dolls. Her two favorites, “Pusheen Caticorn” and “Dragonsheen”, share space with the likes of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson from the movie Grease and Gizmo from the movie Gremlins. Her vast collection also includes historical figures like Rosie the Riveter, Uncle Sam, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln. Not only do the Pop! Dolls bring vibrance to her classroom, these characters show a relatable side to Palmer that students might not otherwise have seen.