School Spotlight: Conner’s patient approach pays off for Lejeune High performers - Camp Lejeune Globe: Carolina Living

School Spotlight: Conner’s patient approach pays off for Lejeune High performers

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019 4:19 pm

This week the school spotlight is on Lejeune High School Theater Teacher Jonathan Conner.

Conner has been teaching at LHS for the past two years. In that time he’s faced fire and hurricanes in his mission to educate students in the performing arts.

Conner speaks to the impact educators have had on him and the importance of patience in his approach to teaching.

Q: What encouraged you to pursue your job as an educator?

A: Remembering the educators in my own academic history that had such a marked impact on the direction of my life. I am still close with several of them today!

Q: What encouraged you to pursue education within your specific age level/curriculum?

A: I remember how much of an impact my own high school teachers had on my growing up. It was a pivotal time in my life, just as it is for my own students, so I wanted to be able to use my own experiences to help them make the adjustment into the wider world.

Q: What is your main education philosophy?

A: I believe that all students actually want to learn, but that not all students respond to the same stimuli in the same way. The goal is to find the best way to get each student excited about taking ownership of his or her own learning.

Q: What is a lesson you have learned from your students?

A: Patience!

Q: What is your favorite part of being an educator?

A: Seeing that ‘aha!’ moment when a concept occurs to a student or a connection is made that didn’t exist before.

Q: What advice would you give to upcoming/new educators?

A: Be patient with yourself. Understand that you are still growing and learning, too. Know that you are going to fall on your face and fail over and over again but don’t take it personally. Just get back up, dust yourself off, and learn from the experience. I have to remind myself of these things daily.

Q: What are three words that would describe your life outside of the classroom? (hobbies, interests, etc.)

A: Planning, rehearsal, sleep. Theatre tends to be an all-consuming activity, so even when I’m not in the classroom teaching theatre, I’m at a rehearsal for a production we are working on or I’m thinking about ways to create the technical elements of a show or how to describe my vision of a character to an actor or what shows might work well together in upcoming seasons. It doesn’t ever stray far from my thoughts, and I am passionate about it!

Q: What is a favorite memory from your career?

A: Hearing students continue a discussion in the hallways that began in class. It’s a uniquely wonderful affirmation of the effect a teacher can have on a student when you see them progressing into more mature reasoning.

Q: What advice would you give to a parent of a high schooler?

A: Be patient with them. We as adults tend toward a sometimes unforgiving view of teens today because they don’t have to face the same challenges that we did so we assume their lives must be easier than ours were. But they have their own struggles that I don’t think we could have ever envisioned when we were kids. Sometimes I think it’s hard to remember that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.

Q: What changes would you like to see implemented in the school system within the next 5 years?

A: We are already seeing VAST changes in the school here at LHS so I would just say that my hope is that all of the changes are implemented without crazy unforeseen circumstances… like hurricanes… or fires…

Q: What are the biggest challenges you face as an educator in a military town?

A: In most theatre programs, you are able to groom incoming kids to become the future leaders of your department because you spend four years with them—you know what they know because you taught it to them. Here we don’t have that luxury because of the inherent temporary nature of military life. We don’t know from one semester to the next who we might be losing or who might be coming in. It can be challenging and unnerving to watch your most dedicated students moving out into the world without knowing who will replace them.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about being an educator?

A: Just that it’s a joy and a privilege to be here at Lejeune High School!

The Lejeune High School Player’s Guild will be presenting “The Great Gatsby”, May 3 at 7 p.m. and May 4 at 3 p.m. Ticket prices - $3 for Wounded Warriors, 5$ for students, $7 others. Dinner will be served between Saturday shows. Tickets are available from Lejeune High students.

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