Student Nomination Story

Hello! I'm Melissa Reepolrujee and I'm a current sophomore at Rowland High School. I'm involved in ASB, an officer for a few clubs on campus, and I will be pursuing the IB program next year. Mr. Hiett teaches honors English 10 and regular English 11. His passion is the study of all kinds of American literature, but his favorite book of all time, and the reason he started to teach, is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. Fitzgerald. During freshman year I had on Zoom and on top of that, I had come from a new school district. School for me was easy and when sophomore year started I was just happy to be in person. Since I started my education as a tiny pre-schooler, school has always been fine for me but honestly, I feel like things have gone downhill (for myself). I admit that I really struggled in his class but I feel so much better now and my mindset has changed. At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, I had heard that Mr. Hiett was a "bad" teacher because of his harsh grading on times essays (which happens regularly, we had 3 essays in the past month and a half months), randomized quizzes with different questions per class (period 3 and 6 may get a quiz but period 4 does not, and sometimes 6th period, my period, only gets a quiz but the other two don't), and long lectures about diction and parallelism. In the end, he is not particularly strict, but truly challenges us and I have come to appreciate it. Yes, I still rant about things we do and act like I "hate" the class, and yes I have moments of frustration with him, but in the end, I secretly enjoy ending my day with him. He has high expectations and I find myself trying more than I used to. There are times I feel too stupid to be in his class, being surrounded by so many smart people and an intellectual teacher - but in the end, I get what he says, and I just wish I could contribute more to the class and actually have the ability to express what I'm actually thinking proficiently. I found that school, especially after Zoom, is not as easy anymore. I'm getting older and his class, I feel like, is actually helping me understand more about literature, speeches, poetry, and my existence - "How do you define yourself?" is a question he's often asked - and it pulls my heartstrings every time. His class is more than just an average honors English class, I have never experienced anything like it. Compared to my 0 period Zoom honors English class last year, it feels like a college course at times, and I honestly kind of love it. I love the mature sides of things that are "harder" to understand and more complex and go beyond more than just a simple description of a text. His class delves into a variety of topics and incorporates history within it too, and even though it is American literature, we have covered a fair amount of things - the texts we have done so far are (and not in order): a set of Puritan and Navajo tribe poems (which was one of the first things we started with), Romanticism works (Edgar Allen Poe for example), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, modernist poems, postmodern and modern speeches, M. Butterfly (NOT Madame Butterfly), and we will be finishing off the school year with White Noise. I also want to talk about a few quick stories before I finish up! At the beginning of the year, he asked us to fill out a variety of questions - favorite books, movies, interests, pronouns, preferred names, and some other things I cannot remember right now - I really appreciated how he asked for our preferred names and pronouns, I had yet to have a teacher ask that from us and even though I identify as a cis woman/girl, I knew that many other people almost needed him to ask that questions. Once we filled this out we would turn in the slip of paper to him to look over, the next day or two he would pass a mic around and read off something interesting that we put on our papers (excluding the pronouns and preferred names of course) - I had put my favorite movie is Forrest Gump, and turns out, it is one of his favorites too, so with that, he asked me why I like the movie and my favorite bits. We also ended up going to the same concert (which was very bizarre to me but not that surprising at the same time)! The day after I went to the Hella Mega Tour (with Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer), I wore the concert t-shirt to school and when he was lecturing he saw me, stopped talking, pointed at me, and said, "Oh so you went to the concert too? Yeah I was there," and it was, at the time, a very embarrassing moment but then I found it to be super cool. It was nice to know I could connect with him in another way; through music. Just yesterday at the time I am writing this he mentioned it again (keep in mind the concert was back in August-September) in regards to White Noise which was great. I always end up as the only one who gets his "older" niche pop culture references and at this point, I'm totally fine with it now. He is funny, beyond considerate, and intelligent. I feel like people may see him as stuck up in a way, and yes he has this certain confidence to him, but he is willing to take some work off of our plates for us to feel okay, he likes to joke around and tries to understand us, he is someone I want to learn more from. He simply just goes above and beyond for us in any way he can. It just takes a certain type of understanding? Perhaps? - To truly appreciate him and his teaching style, there has been a tremendous improvement in my grade in his class this (second) semester and I find him to become my favorite teacher. I thought that teachers like him only existed in movies but I guess not! I hope I will have another teacher like him again. And regardless of treacherous pop quizzes with random vocab words and rhetoric, I do not enjoy it. I've learned and grown a little and have seen many things differently. I have known for a while that I want to become a sort of educator/teacher, and he is the one who just inspires me more to pursue that endeavor - I want to be able to do what he does.

Melissa Reepolrujee

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.