Erin Mueller, English teacher and new faculty member of Nazareth Academy, wants to make everyone feel like they belong.
Mueller previously worked for five years at Marian Catholic highschool, teaching English and creating two English electives: War Literature and Dystopian Literature class, where the joke all year was that dystopian literature is just 2020 in book form, said Mueller.
Currently teaching Freshman English and AP Literature and Composition at Naz, Mueller engages with a wide variety of students. “With teaching freshmen who have never experienced high school and teaching AP seniors, I wanted to find some common idea of it’s okay to just be you,” Mueller said.
Mueller backs up the idea that it’s okay to just be yourself with her class slogan, “You Belong Here.” By reading her students the story of the ugly duckling during the first class, she emphasizes that no one should feel out of place when walking into her classroom, that everyone belongs.
Her pedagogy is reflected in her bubbly personality. “I try to be very upbeat, optimistic, outgoing, I try to make everything as fun as I can because I know not everybody has those kinds of fun days so I try to create that experience for them,” Mueller said.
During Mueller’s own high school years, she admits that she was not the bubbly person that she is today, having struggled with anxiety and depression. Luckily, though, Mueller had teachers who were optimistic and made her feel at ease.
Mueller knew that she wanted to become that teacher for a student who may be struggling the same way she did, and she makes an effort to make all of her students feel as if there is hope and they belong.
Mueller describes her teaching style as “relational” and describes how she wants to focus on the relationships with students through her teaching. “I want to really focus on those relationships with students and building that relationship through the content,” Mueller said.
It’s clear that her students see and appreciate Mueller’s efforts. Senior Molly McGee, a student in Mueller’s AP Literature and Composition class said, “I love her so much. She is very understanding and very patient with us,”
Despite being new to the Nazareth family, Mueller’s personality and teaching style have already made a big impact on the students and her colleagues. Her enthusiasm and understanding is palpable; there is no doubt that she belongs here.