By April Clark Honaker
Marisa Gleason is a Cedar Creek Cougar through and through. Gleason attended Cedar Creek School from kindergarten through twelfth grade and returned to teach junior high ELA (English Language Arts) after earning her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education from Louisiana Tech University.
Gleason has been teaching at Cedar Creek for the last 10 years. She currently teaches seventh and eighth grade advanced honors ELA and a creative writing elective for high school students.
Her path to becoming a teacher started when she was in second grade. She remembers sitting in Mrs. Moss’s class and thinking about how she wanted to be a teacher too. “As I got older, that really never changed,” she said.
Other teachers along the way continued to inspire Gleason to follow that dream. “I wanted to influence students the way they had influenced me and impacted me,” she said
Gleason’s favorite thing about teaching is being able to design lessons in ways that allow her students to be creative, and she loves finding ways to help them discover the relevance of the texts they read to their own lives.
For example, when she teaches “Fahrenheit 451,” Gleason discusses the relevant themes with her students and then gives them an assignment in which they have to choose a theme and convey it artistically in a way that is relevant to them and their life.
She said her students have really done some amazing things with this assignment, creating works from a variety of genres, including sculpture, painting and music.
“It’s so cool to see the energy they have with that assignment,” Gleason said. “Anything we can do that’s creative is right up my alley.” She also has her students create podcasts when they read “Frankenstein” and said that’s another fun project.
Gleason’s creative writing students get to do some fun things as well. They recently wrote children’s books and read them to the elementary students. According to Gleason, this project aligned with what they wanted to do. “I like having the freedom to design writing units based on their interests,” she said.
As a teacher, Gleason aims to create a positive and encouraging environment. She wants her students to feel seen and heard and to connect with them on an individual level. She doesn’t want them to feel like they’re just another student to her. “I hope that they feel encouraged and inspired as they go forward into high school and life,” she said.