A Teaching Inspiration – Mark Maxwell

A Teaching Inspiration - Mark Maxwell

For 33 years, Mark Maxwell has worked as a teacher. He spent 15 years at Wheeling High School, and now 18 at RMHS. He has spent his career teaching English, and inspiring thousands of students over the years.

    Maxwell knew from a young age that teaching was somewhere in his nature. He recalls a memory from first grade when he had helped a fellow student and found it was something he was good at. There was a realization that he could be different from the strict teachers that dictated his learning.

“I wanted to make the classroom a place full of laughter, and I wanted to use that laughter to motivate people,” Maxwell said. He was confident he could create a place where students could thrive, and he did.

    Through the years, Maxwell never lost that spirit. Even now, he still feels seventeen years old at heart, and says he prefers teenagers to adults.

“I will miss the way they [teenagers] always give me hope,” Maxwell said, “Many adults become cynical, give up, surrender, but most teenagers still believe change is possible.”

He has become a student favorite for the reason that unlike many teachers, he treats teenagers like people. He expects and encourages greatness in every student by making the classroom a safe environment where students can be themselves. The words of teenagers are often overlooked, it is hard for them to be taken seriously. Maxwell understands the importance of what they have to say.

“I’ve learned that listening is far more important than speaking and that everyone has a story to tell, and that they need to tell it, whether they know it or not,” Maxwell said.

After 33 years of teaching, the end is bittersweet. Although he will no longer have to spend hours upon hours grading papers, Maxwell must also say goodbye to the bright young minds he has had the pleasure of inspiring, and in return be inspired by. As he finalizes his career, he wants “to thank the roughly 6,000 students who have spent time in my classroom—for their courage, their blunt honesty, their kindness, and their infinite ability to inspire me.”

There’s an undeniable importance in the way things are taught, and it is up to the teachers to make learning into something valuable. Maxwell exceeds this goal by creating a place where students are comfortable, and allowing them to find inspiration in literature, in his own anecdotes, and in themselves.  “The classroom—a place where magic happens every day,” Maxwell said.