Going to work each day is something LuAnn Garvey looks forward to.
“Teaching is not a job; it’s a passion,” says the Webster City High School English/social studies instructor. She adores the core subjects she teaches, the extracurriculars she leads and the kids who are her students.
Garvey is starting her 22nd year of teaching this fall, 20 for the Webster City schools. She was a stay-at-home mom and worked various part-time jobs when her three sons were young. She later decided to follow her passion of being a teacher when the boys were in school, and she finished as her oldest was beginning his first semester at Wartburg College.
She double-majored in English and history and received her degree from Buena Vista University. Garvey teaches a wide variety of subjects, including U.S. history, world studies, English and college prep. In the past, she has also taught public speaking and world studies. In addition, she is the coach for individual speech events in the spring and directs the fall play or musical each year.
At the end of each school year, Garvey teaches a three-week, one-credit drama class and every other summer she takes a group of students on a trip to Europe. That’s where the classroom lessons come to life, she says.
The core subjects she teaches and extracurricular coaching complement each other well, she says. For example, a student may use material from one of the core classes as a foundation for a speech event. Or when the class reads the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” they also watch and discuss the film, using different methods to cover the material.
Garvey’s interest in various literature forms has made her a natural when it comes to directing school plays. This year’s WCHS musical will be “Bye, Bye Birdie.”
“I think it will be a lot of fun; I try to pick things the kids will have fun with,” she says.
In her classes and outside activities, Garvey strives to convey the importance of good communication. Participation in extracurricular activities such as speech and drama helps students try new skills, build confidence and make new friends, she says.
The instructor stays tuned in to what students are talking about and reading, and gets many of her classroom ideas from current trends. She reads books like the Harry Potter series or “The Hunger Games,” and enjoys discussing selections from her own book club.
“I want them to see how much fun reading can be, and talk about it,” she says.
What makes Garvey’s job so enjoyable, she says, is her students.
“I love being around kids. They make me laugh and keep me young. I use lots of humor in my classroom,” she says, “The key is treating kids with respect. I’ve learned that a simple thing like a smile and a ‘good morning’ might be huge to a kid.”