It is no surprise that OLSH English Teacher, Rachael Wallover ‘07, loves to read. Her favorite books have one thing in common: great character development.
Rachael’s interest in complex characters and their unique qualities and personal growth do not stop on the page - her favorite part of being a high school teacher is seeing that same maturation and development in her own students.
“Being a secondary education teacher is like planting a seed. We might not see the impact of our words on a student right away, but knowing that something I taught might become a life lesson for someone later on is really special,” Rachael said.
After graduating from OLSH in 2007, Rachael knew she wanted to become a teacher, pursuing her B.A. in English Education from Duquesne University. She graduated from Duquesne in 2013 and began teaching and subbing in public schools in the area as well as at Holy Trinity School in Robinson. When the opportunity arose to work at OLSH for the 2019 school year, Rachael knew she wanted to return to her alma mater.
“It was like coming back home to my family,” Rachael said. “It made me happy to have the opportunity to give back to a place that had given me so much as a kid.”
Being the new teacher can be challenging, but Rachael’s previous knowledge as an alum along with a supportive staff helped make the transition easier, even in an unconventional year.
“Every time you start at a new school it feels like starting over, but my colleagues here are the greatest,” Rachael said. “I have always felt so supported, loved, and embraced by the staff since coming back to OLSH.”
Rachael teaches College Prep and Honors English 10 for sophomores as well as a Creative Writing Elective for grades 10-12. She enjoys connecting with her students through literature that she is passionate about.
“It is great to see the kids discover their inner potential through English,” Rachael said. “And by teaching these topics, I learn more about it all myself.”
Teaching 10th graders about Romanticism and Transcendentalism is no easy feat, but Rachael tries to keep her students engaged with fun and relevant projects as an end-of-the-year review through songs as well as studying modern works of fiction like The Hunger Games.
“While the students do have to write a lot of papers, for me it is about trying to find creative ways for the students to show what they know,” Rachael said. “It is just so cool to see kids open their eyes to topics they may not have thought about before. Sometimes they even surprise themselves!”
Rachael also sees her students’ potential in a more creative setting though her work as the teacher moderator of The Clarion, OLSH’s online student newspaper, and as co-teacher moderator for WCHR, OLSH’s video production team.
“These kids are so self-sufficient, amazing, and talented; I just supervise if they need help honestly! Interacting with the students and being a part of what they create is one of my favorite aspects of this job,” Rachael said.
Another important aspect of working at OLSH for Rachael is that she can align her personal belief with the values of the school.
“It is important to me to be teaching at a school where I can also talk about my faith and even incorporate it into my English classes,” Rachael said. “Faith is a big part of my life so it is awesome to be able to have that freedom here at OLSH.”
As parents of 9-year-old Kerrigan and 3-year-old Logan, Rachael and her husband don’t have much down time between work and their family activities. Aside from taking her kids to ballet or music classes, Rachael’s hobbies include reading and traveling.
Even after just one year at OLSH, Rachael feels blessed to have such a great support system of faculty, staff, and most importantly, students.
“It is really easy to love the kids I teach. They are just fantastic,” Rachael said. “It is honestly a privilege to be a part of these students’ lives even for a small amount of time.”