Greenbrier High School STAR student John Klement loves math and science. Yet the 17-year-old chose a history instructor as his STAR teacher.
"I suppose, in a sense, it's kind of strange that me liking science (that) I would choose a history teacher," John said of Kathy Manz. "She just displays so much energy, so much vitality, so much enthusiasm for the subject.
"She more or less brings it alive. I just found that fantastic."
Manz, who taught advanced placement world history last year at Greenbrier, but now teachers at Grovetown High, said that what John refers to as vitality she calls a lack of shame.
"I'm too old to worry about what the students are going to think of me, or how crazy I am," joked the 23-year veteran teacher. "I just get up, make faces, yell, act out scenes."
History lessons should include more than the memorization of events and dates, Manz said. Instead, she involves her students in research projects and challenges them to retell historic events using their own perspectives.
"I've had students tell me that the retelling of stories like that is one of the things that stuck in their minds," she said. "What's most important for them is to be involved in discovery ... and come up with ways to bring it alive for their peers."
Manz said few students are better at that than John.
In middle school, John already was taking high-school level math classes and skipped a grade, Manz said. Advanced placement world history typically is taught in 10th grade, but John took it as a junior.
"He was finally with students that were more his age level, and it was an AP class with other gifted students, so he was coming into his own," she said.
"Kids would say, 'Oh John, you're such a nerd.' But they were doing it in a nice way and they were comfortable being nerdy together."
John's "nerdy" nature propelled him to score a 2350 on the SAT. The future medical student also is treasurer of his school's National Honors Society, president of the math team, took part in a medical missions trip to Africa and volunteers at the Medical College of Georgia, Manz said.
"John is such a worthy young man to be noticed," she said. "He will go far. He's phenomenal."
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