Unafraid to fail

Veteran English teacher Cara Vandermyde is used to wearing lots of hats — including student activity director, her newest role


Kennedy Tetour

Cara Vandermyde embraces differences and encourages growth and acceprance in her classroom and within the MCHS community.

Josie Cable, Staff Writer

Sitting at her desk, Cara Vandermyde talks with one of her students who has been struggling. While she has much on her plate being an English teacher and activities director, she’s always there to help her students succeed.

Vandermyde has been an English teacher at MCHS for 15 years but, this year, will be taking on another role that’s new to the school. As activities director, Vandermyde oversees the 50 clubs and organizations at MCHS and guides their advisors.

“Because it’s new, nobody can really tell me what I’m doing,” Vandermyde says, “which is a benefit and a disadvantage. The benefit is I’m creative and I enjoy it. The disadvantage is it’s like a constant puzzle.”

Especially during the beginning of the year, Vandermyde has plenty of responsibilities.

“There are definitely times where I feel like I’m just working to keep my head above water,” she says, “especially as we plan a Homecoming during COVID and as we transition to these new building structures, and on top of it, the two English classes I’m teaching this year are blended.”

Although Vandermyde juggles so many roles at once, helping her students is still her main priority. She always pushes her students to improve, and lets them know that failure is an opportunity to do that. 

“I have a suspicion that many of us are raised, including myself, with this general fear of failure,” she says. “And I think that one of my key philosophies as someone who works with teenage students in particular is this idea that we really need to befriend it and see it as an advantage.” 

To Vandermyde, getting a bad grade is better than not trying at all. As long as her students submit something, she can then help them get better. 

“When a student submits nothing because they’re afraid of being a bad writer or it’s just too much work or whatever reason, you’ve stopped the communication, I can’t help you,” says Vandermyde. “If you submit something that’s terrible…I can help you get to a better grade.”

Being a teacher is more than a job to Vandermyde — it’s her identity. And pushing her students to not be afraid to fail is the best way she knows to help them grow.