Teaching our youth important life lessons through the lens of the past is important. This perfectly describes Jeannette Barich, 8th grade U.S. history teacher at Willowcreek Middle School in Portage, IN. Teaching from the very beginning of the country’s history to the aftermath of the Civil War, Barich is dedicated to teaching her students how history is important in developing yourself and learning about the realities of life.
“Learning about events in history teaches life lessons and how our actions can have consequences,” Barich said. “History often repeats itself, so using history class as a source really makes teaching interesting and invigorating for both me and the students.”
Barich states that contrary to her career now, she wasn’t much of a fan of history when she was younger. However, this changed when she started attending Purdue University West Lafayette, where she found her passion for teaching. In college, her favorite subject to learn about was World War II because she had relatives who were in the service. In addition, studying abroad also widened her perspective on learning history in general.
“Being able to study so many various aspects of history really cultivated my love for the subject,” Barich said.
Barich states her biggest influence has been the colleagues she has worked with throughout her career. Their support has been a monumental influence on her development as a teacher.
“I am the teacher I am today because of these people who always inspired me, encouraged me, and made me think outside of the box. They’ve always pushed me to become both a better teacher and a better person.”
Even her students play a substantial role in how she develops her mindset and employs her teaching methods.
“Their needs and wants influence how I evolve the ways I teach,” Barich said. “Sometimes they have these awesome ideas and we work together to give them the most satisfying and engaging learning experience possible.”
Barich states her teaching methods are unorthodox. While she does typical lectures, she often doesn’t use textbooks. Instead, she focuses more on conveying historical events in chronology as a narrative.
“I teach history by integrating my personal experiences and outlook on life,” Barich said. “I prefer to break down historical events through acting, storytelling, and projects. It’s a way to integrate a more human element into the classroom, and to show the students that I’m very passionate about what I do.”
Barich also loves teaching her students about the Civil War. Her favorite aspect is learning about the battlefields and all of the events that transpired around those areas.
“I’m proud of the teacher I have become,” Barich said. “Teaching can be difficult at times, but it’s worth it when you know you’ve impacted someone’s life and made a difference.”