By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
This was no hum-drum history lesson. This was the story of the Boston Massacre told through hip-hop. Under attack by a mob of angry colonists, the British soldiers shot and killed several men – setting a spark for the American Revolution.
This was a history lesson from 1770 set to a 2018 beat by a Bowling Green student inspired by her eighth grade social studies teacher, Mandy Pasley.
Pasley, who has taught at Bowling Green Middle School for 19 years, was honored Thursday as an inspirational educator of the year by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. She played the Boston Massacre recording to the club to show the creativity of her students.
“Mandy’s one of our best educators,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said after Pasley was given her award. “Her passion for students is what drives her to be the best.”
But Pasley, who also coaches the varsity volleyball team, passed on all the credit to her parents, her husband, her “kids” at home and in the classroom – but mostly her favorite teachers who left lasting impressions on her life.
“I was blessed to have some of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” she said.
Pasley, who grew up in Bowling Green, fondly remembered her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Daly. “She was way ahead of her time,” using problem-based strategies that are popular in today’s classrooms. Some lessons stuck with Pasley, like the day the class made gingerbread men, then arrived at school the following day to find the cookies had disappeared. The students had to solve the clues to find the missing gingerbread men.
Then in third grade at Crim Elementary, Mrs. Sullivan was her sweet, kind teacher with very high expectations. “We never wanted to disappoint her,” Pasley recalled. But one day Pasley and her friend did disappoint their teacher, when they wrote a secret note to a boy in their class. Pasley felt horrible, and Mrs. Sullivan knew her young student well enough to know she didn’t need to say a word. “I was already mortified by what I had done,” Pasley said.
The next year, Mrs. Simmons in fourth grade shared her love for literacy and reading. She would read aloud to the class every day. “Her storytelling was so amazing and powerful,” Pasley said.
In seventh grade English, Mrs. Abel let her students explore, learn and “figure it out on our own.” She often peppered her lessons with current events, making them even more memorable.
And in high school, it was Karol Kampe, who was her teacher and coach, and then went on to be her mentor and friend. Kampe taught some powerful lessons in the gym. “She empowered us as female athletes,” Pasley said. Girls were taught to believe in themselves. “We were just as important as the football team,” Pasley said.
Pasley also credited her parents for pushing her to be her best, in the classroom and on the court. “My parents never missed a game,” she said of her volleyball and basketball games.
Now her husband, Brock, and their two children inspire her.
“It really made me look at my students and parents in a whole new light,” once she had children of her own.
Her fellow teachers also make her try harder. “We try to make a difference every single day,” Pasley said.
Then, of course, are her students – who she also refers to as “my kids.”
“The creativity of the kids I get to work with every day inspires me,” Pasley said.
The added treat is when students come back to visit her classroom after they have gone off to pursue their paths in life. She treasures “watching them become their own independent people.”
Pasley nudged the Kiwanis Club members to remember the special people who inspired them. She had placed “thank you” cards at each table, and urged the members to send messages to people who impacted their lives.