Mid-Year Reflection: Mrs. Soucy
Mrs. Elizabeth Soucy knew she wanted to be a teacher ever since her childhood in Newbury, NH. Her interest in history goes way back: growing up, her family went to old houses and museums instead of amusement parks, where she enjoyed “learning people’s stories.”
Many of Mrs. Soucy’s teachers had huge influences on her life, inspiring her to pursue a career in education. She credits Mr. Bruss, her high school history teacher, with igniting her love for history because “he had such incredible stories to share and was really passionate about the subject.” After graduating from Kearsarge Regional High School, Mrs. Soucy went to UNH where she majored in Medieval History, and got a Masters of Arts and Teaching. While at UNH she met her husband, and she started her teaching career in Portland, Maine, while he was attending medical school at the University of New England. She describes her experience there as “incredible,” with “37 different languages spoken, including ASL, which was really fun.” She had 4 deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and she learned sign to accommodate them.
She then became a teacher at Scarborough High School, just south of Portland. This was a very similar experience to Hanover, with a similar population, but a slightly larger school of about 1,000 students. When her husband got a residency in Minnesota, she moved with him to Rochester, MN and taught at a big urban high school there. Next was a tiny 6-12 school in Minnesota, with only 300 total students. Mrs. Soucy’s last position before teaching at HHS was at a school for at-risk youth in Sacramento, working with kids in the juvenile justice system, pregnant and parenting teens, and other disadvantaged groups. Many of the kids at this school had immigration status issues, and she describes working there as “a really intense but incredible experience” where she “helped them navigate learning and balancing their own needs.”
She decided to stay home while her kids were young, and this is her first year back in a teaching position after 8 years off. In 2015, when her husband got a job as an ER doctor at DHMC, the family moved back to New Hampshire. Her children are now in kindergarten and second grade at the Ray School, so Mrs. Soucy felt that she could get back to her passion: teaching history. “I love history, I love social studies” she says, “I just love young people, it’s so much fun, it’s like the best job in the whole world.”
HHS is “a little bit of a different atmosphere for teaching than the other places I have taught before,” Mrs. Soucy says. There is a different population and a lot more resources than at her previous large urban high schools. She told me a story to illustrate: “I remember when Mr. Gentine showed me the teacher resource area and there was a whole closet full of paper and pens, and I was like ‘Oh my goodness’ all these things are just provided!” This goes to show that what we take for granted at HHS is not the norm at many other schools. She thinks “the Upper Valley is a different space to be teaching where kids are just really thoughtful of the world around them and their community and think about what they can bring forward for the community.”
Mrs. Soucy taught for 10 years before coming to HHS, but after being out of the classroom for 8 years had to relearn a lot: “technology changes, the way one interacts with the material has even changed.” She’s been calling this her “intern year” because she is trying to catch up and “stay current with different ideas about what you teach and how you teach and the lens with which you teach it.” When her teaching career started in 2005, she worked not to “get caught in what the traditional stance might be on history” so she’s “always been mindful about including diverse voices,” but 17 years later she is learning to be “even more purposeful about that and being inclusive of many voices.”
After half a year at Hanover, she “loves it here since it’s really fun and the students are enthusiastic about the material.” I asked Mrs. Soucy if she has any reflections after her first 5 months back as a teacher: she said that after a long break from teaching she could really feel that “as a teacher you are always going to be a continuous learner, because you’re always bringing forward these new ideas, new perspectives to present to your kids.”
Mrs. Soucy taught Psychology, Citizenship and World History, and Geography and Geopolitics last semester, and is now starting Sociology, American Experience, and another semester of CWH. “Each class brings a different flavor and a different class mix: G and G was cool because we got to talk about a lot of current events, in Psychology we tackled some of the issues that kids are facing right now around mental health crises and that was interesting to be able to talk about that during class, and in CWH the Freshmen are so much fun. The immense amount of learning that they are doing not only in the classroom but just figuring out high school is impressive.”
If she could create a new class to teach, Mrs. Soucy would of course choose Medieval History. “When you hear ‘Medieval’ you think of knights and castles and peasants, but there was so much going on around the world at that time and global interactions happening, so I think it would be really interesting to teach a class focused on that time period, looking at many different perspectives.”
Outside of school Mrs. Soucy loves spending time outside with her husband, her six- and eight-year-old, and their one year old mini goldendoodle, Maple. “Stand up paddleboarding, hiking, skiing, that’s our happy place as a family,” she says.
Her message to HHS is that she is “grateful for just being here and being able to teach. It’s the best job in the whole world, and it is so fun to be here.”