Betty Strong is a math teacher at Old Lincoln School. She was born and raised in New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire. She worked in the corporate world before becoming a teacher, and she has been at BHS for 21 years.
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
No. I majored in math and economics in college, and my first jobs were more around data, statistics and analysis for insurance companies and finance. It was just really missing something for me, which was related to service––just doing something that makes the world a better place. I liked working with kids and teenagers; I did a lot of summer camp work when I was younger and in college. I thought, “Well, I can do both math and work with kids by being a teacher,” so I went back to school.
Why do you like to teach freshmen?
The last two years, I’ve only taught freshmen because they are working on opening the freshman academy in the new building. It made sense for a group of teachers to become the freshman team. I like [freshmen] because they grow up so much when they come to the high school. It’s a little bit of the mom in me––I’m a mom too––I love helping them with that. When they come in they’re really still an 8th grader, but then they become a high school student during their freshman year. It’s just kind of exciting and nice to help them.
What’s some advice that you would give to incoming freshmen, especially in this remote setting?
Try new things. Explore as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think that’s something that’s great about the high school too; you’re going to meet new people who are going to become your people. It’s like a fresh start for some kids, which is really great. They’re all in this new kind of exposure and I know they’re going to figure it out.
What do you think are some of the important skills kids can learn in a classroom that they can also apply to other aspects of their life?
There are student skills that apply in all of your classes that will help you become more independent. I think a strength for me is recognizing that when kids come in, they may not be independent yet; but I can support them to be independent. I can coach them with skills to help them be a more independent student, whether it’s taking notes, asking questions or where to find things on their own. [I believe] in them and hold them to an expectation that they can do it independently.