When Susie Oglesby entered college at Mississippi State University to study marine biology, she never imagined she would end up teaching high school.
“I took an education class in college … and fell in love with it while I was at Dauphin Island teaching kids,” she said. “I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just be a teacher because I can make a difference with children.’”
After graduating, she moved around, teaching at different schools. She eventually found her way home to her alma mater, New Hope High School.
“I started out teaching in Tupelo, and then I moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky,” she said. “I loved teaching there. My husband got a job at MSU, and that moved us back to Mississippi. I wanted to come back to the school I went to. I actually graduated from New Hope and I felt it was important to be back in my community.”
Oglesby has taught Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for 17 years.
She said she is in a unique position to, hopefully, directly improve her community through her students.
“I want to plant a seed because our community is STEM,’’ she said. “All of our industry, everything we have, is hands-on. If we don’t introduce these kids to something that is hands-on, they won’t be able to do any of the industry work. Not everybody is meant for college. But STEM can also be used for college, I want to make sure that’s clear.”
She takes this to heart and uses hands-on educational techniques to better prepare students. This led to her applying for, and receiving, her latest grant.
The Mississippi Professional Educators grant was used to purchase a 3-D printer for her classroom.
“The MPE offered $1,000 if you write a grant that is innovative or something that will impact your students,” she said. “I felt like we needed a 3-D printer. You had to come up with a catchy title, so mine was, ‘Designing Tomorrow’s Engineers with 3-D Printing.’ Mine is geared toward ninth through 12th grade. We will teach Tinkercad, Google SketchUp. With all of the industries we talk about, it is aligned with our curriculum.”
These programs offer simple 3-D design and modeling tools.
She said having the printer to see the process in person as opposed to on a computer screen allows for trial, error and experimenting.
On top of her teaching duties, Oglesby also sponsors the successful New Hope Robotics Team.
“I teach robotics in my classroom as well,” she said. “I am strictly a volunteer for New Hope Robotics. We do this after school and I am super proud of them. We have been state champions for the last four years. They have been to the World Championship as well, the last four years.”
Her motto, “It only takes one,” is the creed of her classroom.
She said if she can impact one student, it can create a chain of positivity.
“Because if you can change one, one student, then they can change somebody else,” she said. “That’s my passion. It only takes one to make a difference.”
However, it isn’t one-sided. The students impact her as well.
“My favorite part is when the kids teach me,” she said. “When they have their aha moment, then I get that aha moment too, when they show me something different.”
While it was not the path she envisioned for herself in school, Oglesby is glad she chose the one she did.
“I never thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I am glad I did,” she said.
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