Ellis Chen

Dr. Ayers sits at his discussion chair at the front of the room.

Teacher Appreciation Columns: Dr. Ayers

Ellis Chen

This year was my second year of taking a class taught by Dr. Ayers. Although most of us have had a variety of commitments, Dr. Ayers has made coping with the mildly hellish nature of junior year easier with his class.

There is also a level of freedom that has surely helped me be more prepared for open-ended questions in college. When we read texts outside of class, there is some flexibility that makes it clear to me that Dr. Ayers understands the stress of being a student.

“I like his approach to teaching, he’s relaxed about it, there’s a lot of freedom,” Oliver Zirnhelt ‘20 said.

One of the best features of learning with Dr. Ayers is the discussions that he holds. While these discussions occasionally deteriorate, they are always brought back to analyzing the text at hand. Prompts are relevant but can be deviated from, as long as it remains a discussion of the text at hand.

“I love him and I like our discussions, that’s my favorite part,” Owen Sorenson ‘20 said. “Students can have free reign.”

Dr. Ayers also selected excellent literature. We’ve read from more than thirty works of American literature, ranging from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” to “Underground Railroad” to “Herland” and “The Great Gatsby.” In other words, Dr. Ayers made sure that the content of the class was not dry as I originally thought it would be. This has definitely given me a greater appreciation for American literature than I would have otherwise.

Like I mentioned last year, we can always have friendly conversations with Dr. Ayers. He also displays remarkable tolerance for the clownish remarks often made in our discussions of literature. We are also hoping to hear his impression of Kermit the Frog, although it is unclear at this time if he will be willing to grace us with it.

Rhys Holman and Mira Bohannan Kumar

Junior year can be is a stressful time. From AP tests to mountains of homework, it can sometimes consume your very soul and make you think that nothing will remain by the end of the year. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Sometimes a teacher comes along who serves as a beacon of light in a vast darkness of homework.

One such teacher is Dr. Ayers. This year we both had him for AP Seminar, a class that goes between having nothing to do and having an entire essay to write in a week (Mira wrote hers over the course of two months like she was supposed to while Rhys restructured his entire paper the day before turning it in). Somehow, Dr. Ayers managed to keep our stress levels down (kinda) and make the class an enjoyable mix of “Fireboy and Watergirl” and “Yu-Gi-Oh.” Even though, because of the requirements of AP Seminar, Dr. Ayers wasn’t allowed to give us direct instruction for half the year, we still managed to forage through with some semblance of sanity and personal dignity, because he gave us disappointed glances when he could tell that we weren’t working on our papers.

But Seminar isn’t the only class that Dr. Ayers teaches. In the last two years he’s taught at least seven different classes, and this year he’s teaching four. In his English classes, his enthusiasm for and knowledge of the topics always shines through, allowing him to connect with students while still providing an academically challenging and rigorous experience. This all somehow happens while he maintains a great fashion sense, mixing formal dress with comfortable sweaters and cosplaying appropriately and successfully.

Looking to the future, next year Dr. Ayers will be teaching the class he taught in his years at Kennedy High School: AP Lang. For this reason, next year we will both be taking AP Lang. This phenomenon of students coming out for classes because they want to take a class with Dr. Ayers is not a new one: when he asked our Seminar class why they had chosen to take Seminar, the majority of the class responded that one reason was to take a class with him.

This is because Dr. Ayers connects with his students with a mixture of wit, comedy, and compassion, not to mention his actual teaching. Dr. Ayers creates an environment that is both enjoyable and academically fulfilling. Does all of this combined make him one of the best teachers at City High? The answer…is blowing in the wind.

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