Teacher Feature: Emily Warner follows family tree into classroom

Emily Warner

By April Clark Honaker

Emily Warner has been teaching social studies at I.A. Lewis since 2016. Even as a kid, she knew she wanted to be a teacher and had some really great role models both during her own education and in her family.

Warner’s grandmother and aunt both made teaching their profession with experience in public schools and in juvenile detention. Her grandmother taught for 35 years and her aunt, who is still teaching, has taught for nearly 30 years.

Inspired by these women, Warner chose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education (Grades 6-12 social studies) with a minor in library science from Louisiana Tech. Her decision to focus on social studies grew out of a love for history that was nurtured by her mom.

“My mother is a big history buff,” Warner said, recalling that they would often watch National Geographic or the History Channel when she was a kid.

After earning her degree, Warner didn’t find herself immediately in the sixth grade social studies classroom. She started her career in teaching by working as a substitute for librarian Libby Woodard, earning an additional certification in Grades 6-12 English, and teaching junior high English at Jonesboro Hodge Middle School.

Now Warner enjoys sharing her love for history with her students at I.A. Lewis. In her experience, most kids are not naturally interested in history, but Warner enjoys the challenge of sparking that interest in them.

“I enjoy trying to get them to see history from my perspective,” she said, “and see the story that it can tell us if we’ll just listen to what it has to say.”

To help get kids interested in the content she teaches, Warner said she always starts a new topic by treating it like a story. She also said it’s important to find a hook–something that draws them in. Sometimes that means finding a fun song from YouTube that brings the content to life and gives the students something they can refer back to as Warner continues to add more to the story.

Warner enjoys seeing students make those kinds of connections and to make connections between ancient times and modern ones, which she said happens often when she teaches about Greece and Rome.

But the thing Warner loves most about teaching social studies is changing students’ minds about history.

“It’s honestly about seeing kids go, ‘I really don’t like social studies, but I really enjoy your class. You make it fun’,” said Warner.

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