By Derrick Smith
Teachers are responsible for more than just teaching students lessons out of a textbook. They also help shape their creativity and help their love of learning to grow.
Joanna Gipson teaches French to sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Stillwater High School. Gipson also teaches AP French. She is in her twentieth year of teaching and says that what she enjoys most about teaching is helping them understand the language and how it relates to other things.
“I enjoy helping students master new skills and make connections between French and other subjects they study or are interested in,” she said. “I am always thrilled to hear them actually speaking French with each other.”
Teaching the French language isn’t the only aspect of her job she enjoys. Gipson says she loves many of the aspects of France and she is glad she is able to share that with her students.
“I love the French language and cultures,” she said. “I believe that learning other languages and learning to communicate with people from other cultures is very important in our world today.”
As a high school student, Joanna says that she learned from some really great teachers that helped her learn new things and explore them too.
“When I was in high school my French teacher, my history teacher and my English teacher really inspired me to work hard, explore new ideas, and read critically.”
There are times when teaching can become somewhat chaotic. But Gipson says that when those times come, she is thankful for the advice that was shared with her when she was a newer teacher.
“I was given some great advice once,” she said. “Plan your lessons well, but also be flexible. This advice has come in handy many times along the way. You can plan your lessons perfectly, but you also have to be flexible in case something unexpected happens.”
Joanna and her husband, Terry, have been married for thirty-eight years. They have three children, all of whom graduated from Stillwater High School. When she is not teaching or planning lessons, Gipson finds other ways to occupy her time.
“I enjoy cooking, playing the piano, reading, sewing, planting flowers, and traveling.”