When a child constantly talks about a teacher with respect and admiration, it’s usually a good indication that the teacher is pretty special. So Michael Frick, Director of the Florida Prepaid College Program, feels doubly blessed that both of his children hold some of their teachers in such high esteem.
“You know teachers are making an impact when your kids are talking about them all the time, and speaking well of them,” Frick said.
His son Mason is an 8th grader at Riversprings Middle School; his daughter Mia is a senior at Wakulla High School. Their mother, Tammy, is a VPK teacher.
Frick says both children have always done well academically, and have also participated in a variety of extracurricular activities. Over the past two years or so, he has seen firsthand how teachers who take the time to identify and support a student’s strengths – can set them up for a lifetime of success.
For Mason, it’s William Taylor, his teacher for civics and honors-level world geography. For Mia, it’s Jillian Solburg and Hunter Tucker, her teachers for digital design over the past three years.
Here is how they’ve invested in his children, in his words:
“One of the biggest things that kids struggle with, and I did myself, is that you are hit with so much in those tween years and teen years. It’s easy for teens to become distracted or lose perspective. These teachers have helped both of my kids remain focused by tapping into things they are passionate about and helping them pursue those likes and interests. They’ve also helped them develop skills that will benefit them later in life.
Mr. Taylor has made a huge impact on Mason by encouraging him to think critically and ask questions – not to just memorize and regurgitate data. For example, in civics, they would look at our nation’s founding documents and learn about the historical context of the time that gave rise to those documents when they were created. Being able to recognize that many constitutional principles don’t translate easily to contemporary society and can be completely misunderstood without having historical context, that was a turning point. Mason would often come home after civics class, he would ask questions and grill me. I could tell he was starting to question and think critically about things. I’ve really enjoyed seeing him grow through that process.
For Mia, there were two teachers who stand out. Jillian Solburg and Hunter Tucker took an interest in Mia early on. In digital design 1, she was required to do the grunt work of going out, shaking the bushes and finding businesses to place ads in the yearbook. Sales and marketing. In her junior year, she became more involved in content development and photography. Then she got involved in layout, creative design and production. Now, as a senior, she is applying those lessons – valuable skills and experiences that will benefit her beyond these high school classes.
In her sophomore year, when she was out trying to round up advertisers, Mia almost quit. Working in sales can be very hard! But she stuck it out, and with each year, the scope of her responsibilities has expanded. And now she is THE editor of her high school yearbook. And I know that’s in large part because of how her teachers have encouraged and supported her.”
We look forward to continued success for both Mason and Mia as they continue their education, and we thank all of the teachers that contribute to the success of Florida students each day.