Getting to Know You: AHS Teacher of the Year Annsonnetta Golden

Annsonnetta Golden, AHS Teacher of the Year and ACS Secondary Teacher of the Year

My name is Annsonnetta Golden, and I teach English at Albertville High School.

What made you go into education? 

One of my aunts is only three years older than me. When we were kids, we spent a good bit of our summers together. When I was about four years old, we “played school” every day. She taught me everything she had learned at school. I remember being excited to learn; my excitement to learn to read and to write sparked my love of learning. Even on the “downhill side” of my teaching career, I still love learning, and I still love sharing my love for reading and writing. When I was young, I devoured books, and to this day, I still do so. The best way to share the things that made me happy and shaped my life was to become an English teacher. I chose to be a teacher so that I could help my students love learning as much as I love it.

Did you have a teacher (or teachers) who made an impact on you as a student?

Throughout my elementary and high school education, there were so many teachers who impacted my life in a positive way. My third grade teacher, Connie Limbaugh, made an impact on my life because I knew that she loved me (and all of her students) and saw my potential. She was loving but firm; she also encouraged me to read and write more. My fifth grade teacher, Jane Stewart, read novels to our class and kept us on the edge of our seats; she would always stop at a cliffhanger. She challenged me on a daily basis, and when I would finish my work, she would allow me to go to the library to read or work on the computer, or she would allow me to go to another teacher’s classroom to staple papers or anything else I could help a teacher do. My tenth grade English teacher (who was also my 10th grade history teacher), Jan Whisenant, was the first teacher who understood and shared my sarcastic sense of humor. She also allowed me to help her complete “teacher” tasks when I finished my work. My high school P.E. teacher, Carol Hubbard, was the teacher I could always count on to listen to my struggles and heartaches. I guess the teacher I am today is a combination of all of these women.

Why did you want to teach at AHS?

My husband, Heath, and I taught in Elmore County at Stanhope Elmore High School (7 years for him, 5 years for me). While we were both happy there, we were, and had been for some time, homesick. Even though we were only a couple of hours away from our families, we felt it was too far away from “home” because we wanted to raise our children “at home” so that grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would be just a short drive from us. Heath is an agriscience teacher, and those teaching positions did not open up very often, so we spent years waiting for an opportunity for him to find a job closer to home; we joked that the convenience of teaching at the same school would probably never happen again. Finally, an agriscience position opened up at AHS. There was also an English position available. So, we both interviewed and were hired here at AHS. At first, AHS was our choice because it was 30 minutes from “home” for us. Upon being hired, we realized (at that time) that AHS was a medium-sized school and was a great place to do what God put us on this earth to do–love and teach kids.

What three words would your peers, administrators or students use to describe you?

Persistent–They know that I will not give up on anyone, and they know that I will keep working on a solution to a problem until I figure out a way to make it work. Caring–They know beyond a shadow of a doubt just how much I care about my students. Thick-skinned– They believe that I don’t let anything bother me. (I disagree with this one to a certain extent; things do bother me, but I am very good at hiding my feelings when something bothers me.)

What would you tell your first-year self?

I would tell my first-year self that I don’t have to have to run such a tight ship. I would also tell my first-year self to continue sharing my life with my students (still do that today) but to spend more time getting to know their stories as well.

How do you emphasize involving families in your students’ education?

Some of my current students are here in the U.S. with their parents; however, many are not. Regardless of either of these scenarios, it is often difficult to involve families in the education of my students. I do my best to create assignments within each unit that allows my students to share their families, their cultures, and their traditions with the rest of the AHS student body by posting their work in the hallway. When I take their work down, I always send it home with them. Some of my students ask for an extra copy of some assignment templates so that they can take it home to siblings.

What advice would you give to those who are interested in teaching?

My advice to someone who is interested in teaching is perhaps too blunt, but it is absolute truth: Knowing the course material is NOT going to be enough–if you don’t love kids with all your heart, mind, soul, strength, and guts, find another profession.

What’s your favorite part of the school day?

My favorite part of the school day–of any school day–is when I see my students smile. So many of them have such heartbreakingly difficult lives outside of school. Their smiles happen when they feel loved, successful, confident, or accepted. Most of my students are going through a wide array of emotional trauma/issues; when they smile, it tells me that even if it is for a moment, their hearts are light enough to smile.

If you had to teach a class on a deserted island, what are the five indispensable things you would take with you?

(in no certain order) 1. my glasses (I don’t see things well without my glasses unless those things are close to my face hahaha. I need to be able to see in order to teach.) 2. my Bible (While this is not related to curriculum, it is my lifeline. I can’t do my job unless I have my own life in order.) 3. a ball of some sort (All kids, no matter their age, need a brain break; a game, to get up and move, and to just have fun for a few minutes.) 4. pencils/paper (We need to be able to write things down.) 5. colored pencils/crayons (Kids need to express themselves, and artistic expression is important to show understanding of literary elements.)

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned thus far in your career?

The most valuable thing I have learned thus far in my teaching career is that the strengthening the hearts/souls/spirits of my students are the most important part of my life as a teacher. Yes, the curriculum and the standards are VERY important, but those cannot be learned/accomplished if a student does not feel strong.

What do you hope your students remember most about you as a teacher?

I hope that above all else, my students remember that when they came into my classroom for the first time, they became “my kids” forever. Regardless of the choices they make, the places they go, or the years that pass–long after, they will still be “my kids” for the rest of their lives and mine. So, I hope that my students remember that I loved them fiercely and tenaciously (even though many of them don’t like me when they are a student in my class because I hold them all accountable at all times and see their potential when they do not).

Describe working at ACS in one word!

That’s a difficult question for an English teacher to answer hahaha! One word–beautiful. But it can’t be fully be expressed or understood without adding “heartbreakingly” in front: my life at AHS, my work here within Albertville City Schools: heartbreakingly beautiful.