By ELAINE ZHOU
From the very first day of ninth grade, the notion that seniors rule the school is drilled into our heads. It makes sense. You literally can’t spell seniority without the word “senior”. After four years of blood, sweat, and tears leading up to their senior status, they have earned it. They hold all of the secrets to surviving high school because they’ve had a chance to learn from their many mistakes over the course of their long high school career. This hierarchy establishes the culture of high school. This student hierarchy is the same hierarchy that defines teachers – at least according to the students themselves.
The general consensus is that teachers that have been at UHS for the longest are the wisest. They have the experience behind them to give the best advice. They are the seniors of teachers – you can’t try your usual tricks and hacks around their classes because they’ve gone through hundreds of students that have tried everything from whining for extra credit to being late to class or forgetting their homework.
Teachers like Senior Latin teacher Mr. Davis don’t have the patience for slackers, which may be loathsome normally, but he has gained respect and built a good reputation from being at UHS for so long.
“The fact that he’s been at Uni for so long and see so many students come and go, he’s super knowledgeable” junior Emily Zhang said. “He understands students a lot.”
Of course there are senior teachers whose classes are challenging, but those teachers have the right to make their classes harder because they are known for preparing students well. After all, if they get the job done and please UHS students with the ever-so-important 5s on AP tests, the students will suffer through the classes proudly.
Other teachers may not have been at UHS as long as those like Mr. Davis or Mr. Kessler, but they have been at UHS long enough to have created a personable reputation. These are the Juniors of teachers. They have experienced enough at UHS to know the school well enough and understand what students are going through, especially with the stress that comes with being a UHS student.
“I think the best advice that a teacher is going to give is from knowing the culture of the school and knowing what else is going on in a student’s life that a student’s academic and extracurricular things.” Latin teacher Mr. Michalak said. “They’re able to tailor what they are doing and how they’re reacting and treating various students based upon what they know is going on.”
New teachers don’t have a reputation. They are merely freshmen, trying to find their way around campus, prove their place, and establish who they are going to be at UHS. Students may think it’s easier to find excuses and skim the work in these teachers’ classes. A select few go under the category of well known “try-hard” freshmen. Some new teachers, who start off the year not knowing any student well, might be ambitious enough to give a heavy course load. These teachers take the risk of having students as enemies without the defense of a good word put in by past students.
Regardless of how long teachers have been at UHS, there are the stereotypes of student essence in teachers who participate in anything and everything. Teachers like Mr. Shulman performing in the lip dub or volunteering for pep assemblies provide the laughs when it comes to school spirit. There are even high school sweethearts like Mr. and Mrs. Huber – but not in the traditional sense – who met at University High School not as students but as teachers.
Each of these categories are crucial in high school for both students and teachers. As seniors move on to college and leave UHS in the trusted hands of underclassmen that soon become upperclassmen, teachers retire and leave UHS to their newer colleagues who become department heads. In the end, they earn the respect that comes with the rewards of being a senior student or senior teacher when they have the life experiences – both hardships and celebrations – and stories – both embarrassing and triumphant – to pass onto the next generation of high school residents.