Though a classic piece of literature such as William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” can easily spark the imagination of older readers, Maureen Findlay knows firsthand how it resonates with freshman students at Prairieview School in Waukee. After all, who better to identify with two young star-crossed lovers than young readers, right?
“Kids can relate to the impulsive behavior of the characters,” says Findlay, who last spring when we spoke to her was about to complete her fifth year of teaching Honors English and English I at Prairieview and her seventh year of teaching overall. “They are beginning to form relationships and they have rebellion against their family.”
Findlay says teaching freshman students about the real-world lessons in classic literature and the fundamentals of writing is rewarding work. She particularly enjoys seeing students challenge themselves analytically and creatively.
“I like the fact that they still have a desire to learn and how the students are coming into their own. They’re engaged in their work,” she says. “To see the light in their eyes when they learn something new and are having fun doing so, you feed off of that.”
A lifelong reader who earned her English degree from the University of Iowa in 2001, Findlay says that teaching English is her perfect job.
“I’m a lover of books, so to be able to instill that same feeling in my students, I love it,” she says. “I’m kind of a nerd about books. I was lucky enough to have a mother who instilled a love of books in me at an early age. I couldn’t sit in an office or a cubicle. I like how teaching is different every day, even though it is structured. If I didn’t have this I’d be a very uptight person.”