Although many of her students might not have known it, Hannah Wenger didn’t stop teaching when the final bell rang at Harding University High School.
Instead, she left school at the end of the day to teach adult students as a volunteer at the International House.
But after a full year of teaching English to Jewish immigrants after school, Wenger is turning her past part-time hobby into a full-time career.
She’ll move to Israel by the end of June to teach English literature at an international school.
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“I’m happy for her, since she’ll be teaching people in Israel, but also saddened because she won’t be here for my graduation.” said student Daniel Bun, who is one of Wenger’s current students.
Wenger wants to achieve peace through her teaching, and she thought that teaching at an international school would help achieve this goal, she said.
She also wanted to do her part in smoothing over relations between Israelis and Palestinians through her students.
Wenger isn’t doing this through an organization, however. Instead, she searched schools in the area and ultimately found one she thought she’d excel in.
They were interested in what she taught, and now, Wenger will be teaching English Literature to her students in Israel, in the city of Tel-aviv.
She will be missed at Harding, especially by the students on whom Wenger has had an impact.
For instance, one time, Wenger said she inspired a certain student to the point where he won an award. Originally, the student had no motivation in her class. But, Wenger worked with the student, helping him to discover his love for writing. Ultimately, he won a writing award, she said.
“She places responsibility upon the entire class to learn,” said Josh Miller, another one of Wenger’s students. “She’s personable, she talks about interesting subjects with us, and I feel she’s more of a friend than a teacher, which helps the students and teacher relationship.”
Wenger was first involved in teaching when she became an after-school tutor while she was still in high school.
She said she loved the experience, particularly helping people overcome their troubles in education. When she took a job at Harding, she began teaching English to Jewish immigrants after school because she wanted to contribute to the greater Charlotte community.
She is looking forward to learning about culture and seeing her students’ reactions to her teaching, she said.
But Wenger said she’s also nervous about connecting to students in another country who might be wary of new teachers.
She’ll also miss her current students, noting that she’ll most miss the moments when students excel through their problems and learn above and beyond.
Wenger said she’ll also miss the fellow teachers she both talked to and who helped her.
Her aspirations when she finally touches down in Israel include improving her Hebrew, embracing the new culture and learning how to teach new things.
“I love my students,” she said. “They make me a better person and give me hope for the world.”
This story was written as a part of the Charlotte Observer’s high school journalism Explorer Post.