I coast through classes. I don’t build a connection with most of my teachers, and there have been times when I’ve gone through a semester where the teacher doesn’t know my name. But Mrs. Markano was the first teachers who kept me engaged in class. Maybe part of the reason why was because I’m involved in stage crew at Arrowhead High School, and Mrs. Markano is the stage crew advisor I behaved a bit better there, but that’s beside the point.
The first day of class for both English 10 and acting class, she had her syllabus projected up on the board for the class and told us, “I hate syllabus day. It’s here if you want it, but I’m not going to read through it.”
From there, we went right into classwork. That was the moment I started to appreciate Mrs. Markano’s personality as a teacher. She knows students well enough to know we don’t need (or want) to hear what’s on the syllabus.
While Mrs. Markano is a great teacher, she’s almost more fun in stage crew. Think of a short, spunky, sassy, mother-like lady who never wants you to leave home. That’s Mrs. Markano in two seconds.
Before every show, stage crew “circles up” and goes over notes from the night before and talk about improvements that can be made. On the closing night, one of the seniors will say something about it being their last of that show and Mrs. Markano will respond in a sad, almost whiney voice, “No. You’re not leaving.”
The way she interacts with my other friends at stage crew is what has made an impact on me. We spend hours upon hours together and she, at this point, has become another mom to most, if not all, of us.
So whether it’s in the classroom or not, Mrs. Markano will keep you engaged in what she is talking about, whether it’s the content or because of her energetic personality.
Maralynn Markano looks like an average theatre teacher. She resembles Ms. Darbus from High School Musical. And yes, almost all high school teachers care about their students, but Markano was special, she tried to make a more intimate connection with all of her students. And this is a woman who teaches grade 10 English, Advanced Speech, and Acting, while being in charge of stage crew and being the head of the drama department. Now, I’m not writing this just because she has made an impact on only me, but my fellow peers as well.
A student in my advanced speech class did an informative speech about the dangers of underage drinking. His story was about some random kid with a random name. At the end of his speech, he admitted the random kid was himself. After class, Mrs. Markano called him over to his desk and asked if he was okay, how he is doing now, and if he needs any help.
I had her for two classes in one semester: Acting and Advanced Speech. I was taking Acting for my last fine art credit (and also because I am the worst at art) and Advanced Speech for an extra English credit, and I thought I would be good at it. Wow, did my perspective change.
On the first day of acting, Mrs. Markano made us feel dumb. Like, really dumb. We were playing theatre games that were really silly. The class had no idea what the point of it was, but I learned that it’s to make us feel more comfortable with each other. And it worked.
Advanced Speech was going to be a breeze, or so I thought. I competed on the Arrowhead Forensics team. But forensics competitions and giving a speech to your classmates are two different worlds. My anxiety got the best of me. I would fake sick on days I had to present. On the days my mom made me go to school when I had a speech, I would have a panic attack.
My mom made me go talk to her after class one day, which was something I dreaded. I didn’t know her too well and I thought she wouldn’t care about my situation. But, she did. I told her I felt stupid that I am a state champion in forensics and went to nationals for speech, and I can’t even give a five minute speech to a class.
She said, “That’s completely okay! They are different situations. I understand.” And to top it off, to show she really cared, she even gave me a hug, which meant a lot to me.
If it wasn’t for Mrs. Markano, I wouldn’t have been so open and outgoing in acting class. If it wasn’t for Mrs. Markano, I would have backed out on my advanced speech final to the class. If it wasn’t for Mrs. Markano, I wouldn’t be looking at school with a Comedic Arts degree.
If you ask any of my friends or family they’ll tell you I enjoy talking. I can’t get enough of it. Nintendo Direct comes out, won’t shut up about it for weeks. Big NBA trade and I’ll blab about it for months. Despite how much I enjoy talking, I’ve always had trouble with one thing, speeches. Teachers would tell me I was good at them but I would get nervous to get up and well, talk. This was all until I decided to take advanced speech my junior year of high school.
I lazily walked to first period, name tags spread across the desks so I sluggishly wandered to find mine. Right in front of the teacher’s desk, just perfect. Nobody was in the desk so I scanned the room looking for where they might be. Across the room, I saw a short, older lady getting her papers together, it was Mrs. Markano.
Mrs. Markano gave us a unique way to give ourselves feedback. She would film our speeches and have us watch them to evaluate ourselves. All I could hear was my mind’s alarm going off. Well this is just perfect, I get to experience me fail twice. While I wasn’t too comfortable while I was actually watching the video I was still able to actually see a lot of things I didn’t notice while I was giving the speech. I was able to notice my lack of eye contact throughout the speech and notice I never really moved around the stage. This ended up being the best form of self improvement I could ask for.
It was only the first week but Mrs. Markano was already helping me to be more confident, even if she didn’t know it. My confidence would grow as the year went on. We were given outlines of what to talk about but the topics themselves were ours to choose. This allowed me to talk about my favorite movie, the history of my favorite band and even express my opinions on political issues. This freedom and confidence were a result of Mrs. Markano’s teaching style and, most of all, who she is as a person.
No speech helped my confidence more than the inspirational speech. I was now confident in my speaking but had trouble moving around on stage and bringing my piece to life. I looked at this speech as a challenge. it was one that allowed me to talk about myself who made me into who I am today while also giving me the opportunity to leave my comfort zone. I decided to write my speech about picking each other up and talked about times in my life I was knocked down. I was scared, the speech could easily go wrong and cause me to fail. To my surprise, she loved it! She said she loved that I was able to express myself and be confident in doing so. Funny enough she was the reason I was able to do so.
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