Meagan Hoyt taught her first class as a new teacher six years ago. Last week, three of her former students taught courses for the first time as educators themselves.
An English teacher at Midlothian Heritage High School, Hoyt, has served the district her entire educational career. Three weeks ago during teacher orientation, she discovered that five of her former students not only became teachers themselves but were also hired to work in the same district.
“I was just so excited,” Hoyt expressed. “I feel very honored that they would come back to the district, especially after their senior year. That’s the year that can ruin it for a lot of kids.”
The first student she discovered was Millie Funk, a dance instructor at Midlothian High School. Hoyt said she barely recognized Funk upon first glance.
“I was helping lead the training,” she recalled. “I sat down at her table, helping them out, and I just kept looking at her and I go ‘Do I know you? Did we go to high school together?’ She goes ‘Uh, you taught me.’”
Hoyt later discovered four other former students now Midlothian ISD educators, including Midlothian Heritage High School science teacher Christina Atherton, Mt. Peak Elementary teacher Faith Harden, Longbranch Elementary teacher Sarah Waddill and Midlothian High School English teacher Chelsea Webster.
“She’s always made an impact on me as a teacher, just because she’s been very sweet, she loves English and she’s very good at it,” Hoyt said of Webster. “With her, I feel very comforted knowing that the students are going to get an education from this girl. She loves what she does, and she loves to help people.”
Hoyt said although she does not want to take credit for individual career choices her students made, she does make an effort to develop students with the skills they need after high school.
“I try to pick out who wants to teach, or maybe they’re on the fence, and I just try to nurture it,” she said. “Anytime I hear that a kid wants to be a teacher, I try to nurture that and encourage them to pursue it.”
Like her former students, a teacher convinced Hoyt in her youth to pursue education as a career. She recalled her elementary school teacher Carol Browning being supportive and caring, helping Hoyt learn all of the material she needed in her curriculum.
But in fourth grade, Browning got into a car accident. That was when the X-ray machine revealed that she had cancer.
“We were all devastated,” she remembered. “It’s a lot for a fourth grader to understand why your favorite teacher isn’t coming back.”
Even though Browning was placed on medical leave, she was still involved in Hoyt’s life. Occasionally, Browning vistits the parents Hoyt to check up on her and see how she as doing.
“She would always stop in our driveway and talk to me, hug me, ask me how school was going,” she said. “Sometimes I wouldn’t even recognize her because she would have a different wig on.”
Browning passed away shortly after her diagnosis, but Hoyt took her lessons with her through life and into her teaching career.
“Teaching is so much more than in the classroom,” she said. “I think that is what has fostered me to understand the importance of reaching out to kids.”
It is an honor for Hoyt to work for a community that has educators that have been teaching for 30 or 40 years, but also bringing in new teachers that have graduated from the same district.
“It seems like the longer I teach, the more there's a sense of community," she said. “We’re changing, we’re growing, but there’s something to be said for the fact that people are staying here and they’re coming back."
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX