A step further

Life as a high schooler isn’t easy for any student, but many staff members at MCHS go the extra mile to connect with their classes


Annapatricia Cruz

When a student needs extra help with homework or someone to vent to, MCHS’s teacher often make the time and give support as needed.

Lydia Lawrence, Staff Writer

Listen to this audio story by clicking the play button below.


Students universally struggle with school, like any other part of life. Although challenges may look different now, educational staff understand the strain school can put on their students. Some teachers and staff at McHenry High School take a step further, however, reminding the student body of their support through their anxiety driven days.

The American Psychological Association explains the importance of healthy teacher-student relationships in relation to academic success. Although a connection in itself isn’t going to get a student an A, the positive outlook that the student has on the teacher or the class itself will inherently bring more positive results in grades.

John Beerbower is the Director of strength and conditioning; he is a teacher that strongly encourages mental and physical wellness, as well as connections between others. “Making sure they belong, making sure they know they’re loved, making sure they know they’re special; if you could do those three things, then a student is going to feel much more motivated to not only be a part of your program, but they’re going to feel like some of those needs are met.”

There are different ways that teachers support a student that comes to them, but most of the time they just need to listen.

Elizabeth Goy, an English teacher and yearbook advisor at MCHS, states, “A lot of times kids just need someone to vent to. Not only is that nice to be able to listen to them, but also modeling that ‘when a friend is in need,’ that you’re really just there to listen.”

Teachers like to be approachable and helpful, but they also make sure to keep information confidential. Some of these staff members work to develop trust with their students to give them that extra support system they may need.
Robert Johnson, a math teacher at the Upper Campus, explains, “If we feel like we have a good grasp on what’s going on, we just take care of that…. But if we’re not quite sure, then we reach out to other faculty members or counselors — we don’t use names…”

Students, like all people, strive to be seen and heard not only by their peers, but their teachers as well. Some teachers live up to that, sometimes leaving an impression for years to come.

Junior Briana Peterson felt good after a teacher reached out to her unprovoked. “It kind of just made me feel good that a teacher is looking out for me, and they notice when I’m not myself.”

Not just hearing students, but actually listening and providing academic support and accommodations is very beneficial for overall learning. Although active listening isn’t an easy skill to pick up, students would feel like their teachers understand their circumstances, and are there to support them in school.

“I wish [teachers] knew the way my mind works and the accommodations I need, and I feel like it should be like that for everybody. Teachers should genuinely get to know their students to understand them better,” Lexi Nichols, a junior at MCHS’s Upper Campus, mentions.

While a lot of students feel this way about their relationships with their teachers, school faculty cares about connecting with their own students as well and trying to lift the overall low school morale.

Carla Flores is a Sophomore student counselor; she thinks it is important to maintain the trust students have in staff. “Different results show that some students don’t feel welcomed in this space or don’t feel connected. I think school culture is a little low right now, so I think, over time, bringing that back up and letting them know that every staff [member] in the building that’s here is [here] because they want to be here for students.”

Students want to be heard, and teachers want to listen; If this is so straightforward, then why is there a lack of following through? Like Flores talked about before, there’s a lack of trust that could have stemmed from many places. The goal now, though, is for teachers to do the best they can in rebuilding that trust with their student body in order to make the school culture just a bit more welcoming. While it takes skill to be a good listener and aid others when they need it, some teachers already have their foot in the door.

Additional reporting and audio by Lexi Januk