Voices of Healing: The English Teacher Diaries

Voices of Healing: The English Teacher Diaries

Voices of Healing: The English Teacher Diaries

When I walked into my classroom at Dakota Memorial School before school started, it hit me that this is the beginning of my career. This is where all the conversations start, “Well my first year as a teacher...” I feel a combination of ready to go and ready to run away. I’m both eager and terrified. I feel a huge weight to make an impact and be a superhero for my students. Knowing myself and my flaws, I feel as though I have already let them down.

It’s like I’ve been training for a marathon and my shoes are laced up. I’m stretched and all that’s left is to trust my instincts. But why is that so hard sometimes? Failure scares me--probably because my mistakes as a teacher will directly affect my students. Talk about pressure!  My fear does help me understand what it’s like for kids at the Ranch. Most of them have had lifetimes full of trauma and failure. To compensate, they misbehave and pretend they aren’t smart—just so they won’t have to hear one more time from one more adult, “You are a failure.”

After I stared at my room for a bit longer, the principal, Shayla Leinen and the dean of students, John Campbell, came in to welcome me back to school. Their warm presence immediately eliminated my fears.  It was at this very moment I knew I was in the right school. There is something unexplainable about the way the educators and staff at Dakota Memorial School carry themselves. Their passion, love, and empathy radiate through the halls and into the hearts of our students. It’s impossible to walk into our school and not feel it.

We don’t tell kids they are failures here—instead we discover their many talents and strengths—and show them how they can be their own superheroes. I’m ready to help them fly!

Madison Novacek--who sometimes goes by Madi, and other times, Mads, Teach, and Ms. Nova--is from West Fargo. She has been in Fargo most of her life, with a couple study-abroad trips thrown into the mix. She transferred from Arizona State University to North Dakota State University her sophomore year of college, keeping her degree of English Education (She promises to not correct your grammar, and yes, she probably has read that book).

In her free time, Madi enjoys the grueling pain of long runs, burying her nose in an inspirational book, and playing fetch with her ambitious pup, Otter. Along with her job as an English teacher at Dakota Memorial School (DMS), she is a board member for a local non-profit, African Soul American Heart. Madi loves being Ms. Novacek and is looking forward to learning and growing with the students at DMS!

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