Teacher Appreciation Week: Mrs. Fettweis
Beth Fettweis grew up thinking that she wanted to play first base for the Mets, marry into the British royal family, be a lawyer, or be a stay-at-home mom with six kids, but we were lucky enough to get her at City High.
Fettweis graduated from Wake Forest University in North Carolina and then continued on to graduate school at Iowa where she received her masters in literary studies and teaching. She has taught at City High for 15 years.
I first encountered Fettweis when I was a freshman. She taught in the same classroom I had English 9 in. Everyday she’d come in the door and greet the juniors who filed in, as I walked out. All of the juniors I knew in that class she taught,loved her. From then on I crossed my fingers, hoping she’d end up on my class list junior year. Luckily enough for me, I landed right in the middle of her boisterous fifth period class this year.
The energy comes not only from the students, but from Fettweis herself. She has actions and mannerisms that any of her students would recognize. When anyone makes a comment that she really likes she’ll kick her legs and punch her hands to show excitement. When she’s a little not sure quite what to do with us she rubs her head, pushing her hair into her face. She also has a couple of expressions she uses frequently including “I don’t know I wonder” which she got from her son. She also says “I says to myself, I says, ‘Sister,’” and then follows it with any reflections she has had over the week. It brightens my day to see her kicking around the classroom, buzzing from one side to another.
“I would rather have my classroom teetering on the edge of chaos than dead silent with quietly compliant students,” Fettweis said.
As much as I love the vivacity that she brings to the room, what truly has made me feel a connection to Mrs. Fettweis is the way she checks in with me. She greets everyone with a warm smile and asks, “Hey, how are you doing? Are you hanging in there?” When she asks this, I know she doesn’t just want a smile or a nod. She wants to hear. Mrs. Fettweis listens like no one else I know. She cares and I can see that through her teaching and her engagement with students. She brings cookies at times when she feels like everyone is fading, she sings in the hallways, and she makes me laugh.
Mrs. Fettweis has three children and found that when she became a mother she approached her job a little differently.
“I realized that every single child, a parent sent into the world terrified for. I came to see my job as knowing students as people,” said Fettweis. “I think what we do is important, so I want to at least show them that I care about their learning and about them as people”
Mrs. Fettweis has created a comfortable place I feel like I can let down a little and shake off some of the stress from my day. She is someone I could always come to, if needed. I know she’s got my back and I know she wants to see her students succeed. She takes her job seriously but balances that out with light heartedness.
Along with being a warm individual, she is also a fantastic teacher. She gives encouraging comments on essays. I mean, how could they not be encouraging when her bitmoji pops up along with it? I enjoy learning from her, especially when we are reading books that are filled with connections I could not make by myself. She has challenged me throughout this school year to ready more deeply. She also gives wonderful advice.
So, to a book-loving and -buying fanatic with clever outfit combinations and kind eyes, Mrs. Fettweis, I hope the next time you find yourself thinking about your week you say, “I says to myself, I says, ‘Sister, I’m doing pretty good.’” Thank you, sincerely, for everything you have done for me.