Meet MHS English teacher Cynthia Calhoun

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Name: Cynthia Calhoun
School: Maricopa High School
Grade Level or class taught: Currently 9th and 12th grade English

How long have you taught in Maricopa?

This is my first year at the high school, although I’ve lived in town for three years.

Where did you teach before this year?

I taught high school in Holland, Michigan, then in Muskego, Wisconsin. In 2002 I began teaching English at Marquette University in Milwaukee. In 2004 I began teaching English at Arizona State University. And now, I am at Maricopa High School.

Why did you become a teacher?

There is absolutely nothing else I wanted to do. I love working with teenagers and sharing writing and literature with them.

Why did you decide to teach in Maricopa?

I’ve lived here for a few years, and I really like the community. I see a lot of potential in this (not so) little town.

What is your approach to teaching?

Imagination with a healthy blend of realism. Knowing how to read a sonnet is nice, but it doesn’t have application to every student. However, if you can teach strategies of reading that utilize critical and creative thinking, students can take what they’ve learned from reading that sonnet and apply it to real life situations.

What makes you unique?

I have a wide variety of experiences when it comes to teaching, and life in general. I’ve taught at the high school and college level, I’ve lived overseas; I’m a musician, an actor, a writer and a scholar.

What do you like to do when you are not teaching?

I’m working on my dissertation for my Ph.D. in literature, through ASU. Other than that, it’s football watching with my husband, Guitar Hero with my friends and the occasional theatre experience.

Do you have any children? If so, are they in the district?

I have one daughter – she’s not old enough for school yet!

What is the most memorable teaching or life experience you have had?

A totally unfair question! I feel as though I should put something totally positive here, but that would be inaccurate. My most memorable teaching experience was when I taught in Wisconsin – it was only my second year as a teacher. I was tutoring one of my students during study hall; we were reading segments of Moby Dick in American Literature. And I remember looking into his eyes, and seeing that his mind was gone. He had beautiful blue eyes, and there was absolutely nothing behind them – he had fried his brain with drugs. And I thought, ‘How sad.’ Nothing else, just, ‘How sad.’ I wasn’t willing to give up, but I found myself in a new situation, one that I never imagined I’d encounter. It made me realize how important we teachers are, and how vital it is that education and care of young adults is a community effort.

Photo by Michael K. Rich