There are many enrichment courses available at the Warren County School District's Learning Enrichment Center.
Some students in grades kindergarten through 12 study music, foreign languages, and literature, can explore crafts and puppetry, even weaving.
Those courses in particular have something in common - teacher Andrew Pollard.
Pollard is a certified teacher who made his way to education from music performance.
He plays many roles at LEC and plays them with enthusiasm. In the summer, Pollard continues his combination of music and education as an instructor with the Warren County Summer Music School.
Q: Why did you become a teacher?
A: I came to teaching later in life. I was working in "Corporate America" and was traveling 80 percent of my time. I was no longer finding my career fulfilling and wanted to do something that would make a difference. I took stock of all the things I enjoyed and teaching kept coming out on top. I visited a few classrooms and was hooked.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
A: I feel like I make a difference in the lives of my students. I have students from kindergarten through grade 12. I see them as they grow from year to year and become young adults. There is nothing quite like seeing a student's face light up as he/she discovers some new skill or a new way of looking at something. I really enjoy seeing my students out of school, in the community. Seeing them interacting with the world, and having them see me interact outside the walls of a school is great fun.
Q: What frustrates you the most about teaching?
A: Every job has its frustrations, teaching is no different. My biggest frustration is not isolated in the education community. I become very frustrated by what I would call a pervasive sense of entitlement. That sense shows itself in education by people believing that one should receive something (a grade, a starting position, a job assignment) even though they may not have earned the privilege. There are some things for which it is worth the work and effort.
Q: What advice could you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teacher?
A: Please don't teach because you don't know what else to do. Teaching is both an art and a science; you need to be adept at both the art and the science to be successful and happy in your work. Our students deserve the best we can provide, teachers without passion are not the best we can provide.
Q: What career would you be in if you were not a teacher?
A: I have been a professional performer, a social worker, and a technology trainer in previous careers. Teaching has allowed me to meld all of those into one. I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
Q: If you could recommend one thing to parents (to help their children in school) what would it be?
A: Help them become lifelong learners. Encourage them to read anything and everything: picture books, chapter books, novels, instructions, the back of the cereal box, anything. Help them understand that learning has intrinsic value. Please help teachers teach your children about not only one's rights within our community and our country, but also about one's responsibilities to our community and country.
Q: Teachers generally have a favorite funny or heart-warming classroom experience story... what's yours?
A: My story is more heart-warming than funny. Just a few months ago I was walking to my car, which was parked on Pennsylvania Avenue. There were two young adults standing near my car, just looking at it. Both students looked startled as I came up to the car. One of the two was a student I had the first year I taught. He came from a difficult background and was often in trouble in school. He has traveled a rough road. I recognized him and said hello, calling him by name. We chatted for a few moments, catching up. His friend looked stunned. His friend asked him "Who was that?" as I was getting in my car. The young man said "That's Mr. Pollard. I think he was the only teacher who ever really liked me." I was saddened by his statement at first. I thought about this chance meeting as I drove home and began to smile. I gave that kid something positive to remember about his childhood and school. I have taught many lessons in my teaching career, but I think that was the lesson that meant the most; to him and to me.
Q: Is there anything I should have asked you about but didn't?
A: What is it about you that you want your students to remember? I want my students to remember that I encouraged them to be the best they can be and that it is a GOOD thing to think differently. Our differences are the only thing we all have in common.