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Let’s Talk With Ms. Grant

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Source: Ms. Grant
Ms. Grant, Senior Advisor

Ms. Grant, history teacher, has been helping the senior class of Forest Hills High School create memories that they can look back on and remember fondly. Ms. Grant is a passionate and caring teacher who educates the young people of Forest Hills about world history and American government and economics. On top of being a social studies teacher, she is the coach for the girls cross country and track and field team and the senior advisor. 

After graduating from high school, Ms. Grant went directly to work. Realizing she needed a change, she went to Queens College. Ms. Grant had this excellent teacher in college by the name of Dr. Pine, who inspired her to become a history teacher. She looked up to this teacher greatly. “I said to myself, I want to be that teacher. I want to be that person that makes history exciting. I can’t even tell you who my high school history teacher was, but I can tell you that Dr. Pine made me grow a love for history.”

In the last 22 years, she has taught global history to English language learners. This year, since she is the senior advisor, she decided to take on two government and economics senior classes and guide them until the end of the school year. 

The Beacon interviewed Ms. Grant to learn more about her roles in Forest Hills High School. We asked her what a typical day looks like at work. She wakes up as early as 4:30 in the morning to get ready for school and checks her emails. She then tries to figure out what she needs to do for the senior class, the track team and her government classes. When asked how she feels about all of her responsibilities, she said, “They are overwhelming, but I enjoy doing it.” She genuinely finds joy in it and says that she couldn’t imagine herself elsewhere, “I have a love for Forest Hills High School.”

Her most notable achievement? “Ms. Sanchez and I worked on a program for cross-border relations for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We were also a part of a program called Civic Voices.” They went to Russia and participated in a teacher exchange. Teachers came from Russia to teach at Forest Hills High School for a couple of weeks, while she went to Russia and taught a class at St. Petersburg about voting and the importance of elections.

During her time there, she learned about the blockade in Leningrad from the principal in the school she had taught in. Once she came back and learned first hand from the principal, she made sure to include the story of the blockade that occurred there. Her knack for history, coupled with her innate ability to connect with others, helped her share to her students the parts of history that are left out or aren’t talked about much. She did another teacher exchange where she taught teachers how to teach children how to interview people who had experienced history in cross-border relations.

She brought her own students to the Queens Community House on 63rd Drive. They had a program for elderly people where her students interviewed elderly immigrants about their experiences in America. This program was made possible by the American Federation of Teachers. Ms. Grant’s family is Irish and she had plenty of knowledge and experience about Northern Ireland, so she was well versed with the whole conflict about cross-border issues. They sent her to Northern Ireland to teach teachers how to get kids to interview people who were from both sides of the conflict. They had their kids interview remarkable individuals. The American Federation of Teachers stored this history for when the people pass away.  

Ms. Grant recounts a student who interviewed a family friend of hers that helped open up the first credit union in Derry, Ireland. “Watching him tell the story to the students was really nice to know I was a part of that process,” she shares with The Beacon. A vital part of being a teacher is having understanding and support for students but the most special part about Ms. Grant is her genuine desire to open up her students’ worldviews, guiding them to be great listeners, and cultivating their curiosities. 

When asked what skills she has gained from being a part of the program, she stated the following: “I think empathy is a quality that everyone should have. Especially in America, we take for granted what we have. I think if we have a little more empathy for people, we’d understand their situations, where they come from, and we might be more forgiving.”

She has made lifelong connections with the people and students she has met all over the world through these exchange programs. This brought her to various places and taught her things she wouldn’t have been able to learn without the quality of empathy, understanding and respect for others. She has brought the knowledge from these experiences to her classrooms, making her a better teacher and person.

The most challenging part of her job is the organization of it all: balancing teaching, coaching, and being the senior advisor. The little things matter to Ms. Grant. She is the person working behind the scenes to set up the most meticulous and well-thought-out events. The beginning of the year isn’t so hard, but when February rolls around, she has to carefully plan and make certain that everything is right. She begins with her orders, confirming their arrivals, making sure kids are passing their classes and keeping on top of them, ensuring the vendors have everything they need, and many more. She makes sure the finishing touches are done the way they should be. 

In regards to the track team, she says that the best part about coaching is seeing the girls improve themselves over time. They may or may not be the fastest runners, but if they gain some joy from running, being a part of the team and something special, that is one of the most satisfying things for her. For the senior class, it is helping to create memories they can look back on and remember fondly, whether it be the trip, the prom, and graduation. Every year is special to her. She loves seeing the kids enjoy their final year of high school, the great things they are about to experience and how they overcome their challenges. 

“I’ve seen kids overcome difficult situations. Watching kids go through things and know they can do it. Everybody thinks things are so joyful. It’s a part of the empathy. Everyone in the senior class has a story, and their stories are going to bring them to June 26. They’re all going to have to overcome some challenges. The joy of my job is watching them on that graduation day, seeing them overcome those challenges. I might know some of the stories. I don’t know all of them, but the ones I do know always makes me so proud. Some kids come in, are very studious and do what they’re supposed to do. But there are other kids who in their first year were clowns and didn’t do what they were supposed to do. And there’s some point in their junior year when they realize they want to do better. Watching those kids walk across the stage is a major accomplishment for any teacher or senior advisor.”

Ms. Grant is a serious advocate for making changes. She continuously encourages her students to take control of their lives. “The one thing I always tell my students: if you’re going to your job, and and you’re not happy every morning, and and you’re trying to make excuses about why you don’t want to go, that’s when you should get something else to do.”

As senior advisor, Ms. Grant wants the seniors to know to take a deep breath. With staying on top of classes, working on college applications, and many more personal responsibilities, Ms. Grant says, “If we just stop for a moment and breathe, sometimes it gets a little better.” 

Forest Hills High School is a big institution. It seems like it can get impersonal, but there are personal stories everywhere and teachers who care about their students. She is one of them: “I live, breathe, eat the school.” 

She has been here for 22 years and would never think of leaving. When she wakes up in the morning, she loves her job. She loves being the track coach, the senior advisor, and a teacher. She encourages her students to be open to change. If a student goes to college and is taking classes they’re not happy with, and it’s not working out, she says, “These are the years to make those changes” she assures. “It’s okay to go in a different direction. People remake themselves all of the time. That’s what I did. I remade myself.”

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About the Contributor
Nadine Jamora
Nadine Jamora, Feature Section Editor
Nadine is a feature writer for The Beacon's 2023-2024 school year. She is a senior in the music program. She is an Alto for the school's concert choir and is a student leader for Forest Hills High School's Filipino Club. What she enjoys most about The Beacon is the ability to explore and take on new challenges. Outside of school, she is an avid reader and writer.
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