As this challenging year comes to a close, some of our beloved teachers are retiring. Ms. Nye is one of these incredible teachers that will be leaving Santa Barbara High School and 28 years of teaching. Mrs. Nye has been a teacher at Santa Barbara High School for about 14 years. She has taught AP Language and Composition, as well as the dual enrollment Art History course. I personally took both of these classes. Ms.Nye has been one of the most impactful teachers I, along with likely many others, have had as a student here. Ms.Nye will be greatly missed by the student body of Santa Barbara High School.
Mrs. Nye never planned to be a teacher. She was a grad student in Art History when she thought she should get her teaching credential to support herself while she worked on her dissertation. Her undergrad major was Art History however she had enough units in English to get a teaching credential in both English and History. It never interested her to teach elementary and junior high students because there is so much else going on as far as development goes. She remarks how junior high specifically is really hard because at that age kids are “dealing with so many things that they can’t really talk about ideas that much”. Her hopes as a teacher have revolved around hoping that kids will be “exposed to the world of ideas and that they’ll be curious”. She sees these two things as sort of saving graces when “things get tough”. She believes that curiosity is a driving force that encourages students to continue on despite the difficulties of life itself.
Before coming to Santa Barbara High School, she taught at La Cumbre Junior high. She then went on to work for the district for around 8 years. She also spent about 4 years teaching at a private school. Though she can’t pinpoint a distinct moment over the years that have stuck with her, this year as a whole has stood out due to the obvious circumstances. She went into this year thinking it would be “so difficult” but remarkably, despite the online classroom setting, she was able to build connections with students. She also has felt very lucky to have taught 11th graders specifically as she sees this time in a young person’s life as very interesting, “they’re not seniors and it’s not almost over, and they’re not ‘primates’ they are becoming interesting human beings and becoming interested in the world”.
If Mrs. Nye could give herself one piece of advice, coming into teaching at SBHS, it would be to live by these rules: 1. Be interested in the kids 2. Be enthusiastic about what you teach. The importance of number one stems back to the importance of this time period (high school) in a human being’s life, “caring about the kids is most important”. Number two is “neck and neck” with the weight of number one because students are the future. She explains that she recognizes that older generations are leaving a huge responsibility to younger generations as far as racial injustice and the environment and, “so so far to go”. Mrs. Nye has never felt the need to put that responsibility onto her students because you “can’t tell any other human being what they should feel is important”, however during this time and over the course of her class, the students are exposed to the reality of the world around them and with that a greater understanding. She expresses a tremendous amount of empathy for her students and hopes they recognized that. She has always felt a responsibility to change the world and create equity, she still does. Despite these rules, she never felt she had it down perfectly. She doesn’t believe that it’s possible to create the perfect recipe for teaching as every student is different thus the dynamic of each class shifts year to year.
As Mrs. Nye prepares to leave SBHS she will miss the students most. She will miss experiencing the students changing and becoming aware of the world around them in her classroom and out. She is also grateful to her students, “ so many kids have no idea how much I’ve learned from watching them or listening to them”. She feels very lucky to have found this career as meaningful and fulfilling as she has. She says teaching has “brought real meaning and purpose to my life”.
If you’ve been lucky enough to take one of Mrs. Nye’s classes you may have heard the many stories of her world travels. She plans to continue many world travels and cross-country road trips as the world begins to open up. She is excited to travel again because of the fulfillment she, and many others can find through looking at buildings, sculptures, and paintings. She is planning on going to a language immersion program, possibly in Italy. She has also joined some film societies, like sundance, and is planning to go to film festivals. She is also looking forward to reading more. Due to the pandemic, it will probably be a while before she can travel to parts of the developing world she has yet to see, so the first destination will likely be in Europe. She’s just excited to go anywhere. Mrs. Nye, we wish you safe travels and send you gratitude for all the work you have done and the deep impact you have made on your students.