July Top Notch Teacher: Houston High School’s Jacqueline Mathers

HOUSTON, Minn. (WKBT) – A Houston High School teacher is helping her students find joy in the classroom. Education changed drastically over the past year, but one thing remains constant. July’s Top Notch teacher understands how important relationships are — especially now.

“My father is a retired colonel. My mother is a Bible teacher,” said Jacqueline Mathers, a social studies teacher. “Serving others has always been stressed in my family.”

Mathers 13 years at the front of the classroom don’t measure up, to the daunting task 2020 brought.

“I’m not gonna lie that last two years have been the most difficult ever in 13 years,” Mathers said.

The simple pleasures of education did not change.

“The most important thing is still the same, forming relationships,” she said.

Relationships changed senior Ava Schroeder’s entire attitude walking through the school’s doors.

“I used to hate school and then I took her class in eighth grade and I probably wouldn’t even be where I am today if I hadn’t taken her classes,” Schroeder said.

Students notice when a teacher cares.

“It’s really important, especially for younger kids too,” said Emma Geiwitz, a senior at Houston High School. “When they’re looking for someone to do that she’s always there.”

Mathers takes an interest in her students’ well-being, Schroeder said.

“She’s honest with you and she cares about you and your grade and how you’re doing in life in general,” she said.

That’s another constant: Mathers won this honor 10 years ago. That’s never happened since News 8 Now decided to highlight the work of people like herself.

“That is a gift in itself,” she said. “The gift of knowing what you do means something.”

Mathers inspires others to follow her into education.

“Now I want to become a social studies teacher because of her,” Schroeder said.

“I want to basically be another Mrs. Mathers.”

Mathers carries a humble attitude.

“I don’t know if I deserve that honor, but I definitely feel like that means a lot to have someone feel that way about you,” Mathers said.

Even after an unpredictable shift in school as we know it, passion overcomes the headache of zoom lectures and online homework.

“I can lose count of the times where I feel where they have learned and they have grown as people,” Mathers said.

An era where the delivery may be different, but the message behind it transcends her 13 years with the district.

“Your students need to know that you care about them and love them,” she said.

“I’m only as good as the students I teach.”

Mathers and her family live in Houston. She plans to teach her own kids when they’re in high school.