Union High School Freshman Academy – Richard Hackler, math
Special education/biology teacher Aimee Mares has been named the Teacher of the Year at the Union High School Freshman Academy.
“I grew up with my grandmother in central Pennsylvania. Times were a bit difficult for us, but school was always a safe haven for me,” Mares said. “I ended up attending the Milton Hershey School, a boarding school designed to support students living in poverty. My teachers at the Milton Hershey School became far more than teachers to me. They spent time before and after school supporting my academics and sparking a love of education in me. When it came time to decide a career path for myself, I realized that I had become the person I am today because of the incredible influence of the teachers and house parents that I had while at the Milton Hershey School. I became a teacher in order to invest in the lives of teenagers and help them see the endless amounts of possibilities they have for their future. More than teaching content or having my students ace tests, I hope to instill in them a love of learning new things and demonstrate to them the importance of kindness.”
Mares started teaching at Union Public Schools in 2018. She moved to Tulsa from Arizona, where she previously taught in Phoenix for five years.
“More than any year before, I’ve seen the importance of social and emotional learning for our students,” Mares said. “Students, some of whom have not been in a physical classroom for some time, are having difficulty adjusting back to normal school and they are still dealing with very real impacts of COVID. Many of my students admit that they feel addicted to their cell phones and live in a virtual world, neglecting real-life opportunities to interact with other humans. Other students are struggling with very real and very big mental health concerns. We spend a lot of time focusing on building relationships as a class, talking about ways to navigate day to day difficulties, and celebrating even small successes. I make sure that my students know that I care more about who they are as a person than how much they know about biology (although I care about that too!).”
Mares has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Penn., in 2010, a master’s degree in special education in 2015, and a master’s degree in educational leadership in 2018 from Arizona State University.