CHICAGO — The McDonald’s All Americans’ high school careers are coming to an end, so they will soon say goodbye to the teachers who helped them get to graduation. Many of them jumped at the chance to talk about their favorite teachers this week in advance of Wednesday’s games.
For several of the All-Americans, their favorite teachers were the ones who challenged them. They wanted to take on more difficult coursework and subjects, and their teachers made sure the students rose to the challenge.
Evina Westbrook didn’t know much about environmental studies before she started her class, but Ms. Knecht at South Salem High in Oregon helped Westbrook get comfortable with the subject.
“She spent time with me after class, and after school because she really wanted me to succeed. It did have an impact on me knowing that a teacher wanted to see all her kids succeed so much,” Westbrook said.
Her future Tennessee teammate, Rennia Davis, took Latin at Jean Ribault High in Jacksonville. The language isn’t easy, but Davis loved the challenge Dr. Ranch’s class gave her.
“Her class was not easy at all, but she was a good teacher” Davis said. “She stayed on me, and I appreciate that. She wouldn’t let me get by because I play basketball. I made my first C in her class. I was mad about that at the time, but supposed she just let me get by?”
Collin Sexton’s math teacher at Pebblebrook High in Mableton, Ga., Ms. Harrell, ensured he was taking on more difficult work.
“She always made me work hard,” he said. “She pushed me and gave me more work than everyone else. I could talk with her.”
Troy Brown Jr. is preparing for Oregon by taking a full slate of Advanced Placement classes at Centennial High School in Las Vegas. Ms. Cerrone, his AP Literature and Composition teacher, helps him keep his focus on college, he said.
“She is always ready to teach us for the next level, and get us ready to go to college. She is always talking to us about college,” Brown said.
For two All-Americans, they had teachers push them to excel in subjects they didn’t like in the past.
“Language arts is not my strongest subject. Math is my strongest subject. This year I grew to learn to comprehend more things because of Mr. Walker,” said Kasi Kushkituah, a Tennessee-bound senior at St. Francis in Alpharetta, Ga. “ He helps me a lot. He knows my schedule, but still, it’s no excuses. You have to stay on top of the work. He pushes me to come after school, before school to get help. I’m starting to like language arts. I’m starting to go find books to read. He pushed me to do that.”
“I’ve always loved math, but my last English teacher, she really helped me,” Dana Evans said of Ms. Anderson at Westside Leadership Academy in Gary, Ind. “I’m not really good at test-taking. She helped me with strategies and even, not school-wise. When I’m down about a game, she’d say, ‘Dana, let that go. You’re going to be OK.’”
Wendell Carter, Jr. will head to Duke this fall, and one of the teachers who helped get him there is Dr. Dupree from Pace Academy (Atlanta).
“He was a really old-school style teacher, and I really liked him,” Carter said. “It was more, you need to come to school to do the work. Your grades will show if you did the work. It was your choice.”