EASLEY — Michelle Hydrick, a teacher of English and literature at Gettys Middle School in Easley, was honored by the South Carolina Education Association as its teacher of the month for February, highlighting her connection with her students and dedication to her calling.
Hydrick, who has been teaching for some 23 years, all in Pickens County, was taken aback when she received word she had been selected based on an essay submitted by one of her students.
“I was very excited, humbled and surprised when I was told I had won,” Hydrick said of the day she received word. “I have been teaching a long time, and when they told me I was named teacher of the month, I tried to look and see what it was I was doing that was different.
“I realized I wasn’t really doing anything different from the rest of the teachers I work with or have worked with over the years,” she added. “I asked the student that submitted the essay what had prompted her to write it and she just said I connect with her in a way no one has before in school.”
Hydrick, a native of Long Island, N.Y., was sincerely touched by the sentiment, though she still isn’t sure what, if anything, she does that’s special, other than love her chosen career. The student explained to Hydrick it was, as an example, Hydrick’s words on paragraphs and their construction that may explain it best.
“I had told the class that paragraphs don’t have to be five sentences long, that there isn’t a set rule. So, I used something I had learned a long time ago,” Hydrick said. “I told her the paragraph should be long enough to cover anything important and short enough to keep it interesting. I had to explain that wasn’t something original, that I had read it in an education magazine probably 20 years ago.”
Original or not, Hydrick is making an impact with her students, bringing them the art of the English language as well as the importance of reading and communication in life. In this case the teacher became the student as Hydrick learned a lesson of her own.
“It made me realize that someone out there is really listening and watching, that what I am saying and doing is actually being seen and heard,” she said with a chuckle. “I realized that these students are watching and listening to everything, they are aware, so I make sure to remember that at all times now.”
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.