MISSOULA - This week’s One Class at a Time winner is Allie McFarland who is an eighth grade English/Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at C.S. Porter Middle School.
Every year her students read three classic texts, but this year she’s added in a new novel, which hits a little closer to home.
“It’s funny when you tell people you that you teach eighth grade — they go 'oh, oh I’m sorry or that was a hard year for me.' And I say: ‘it can be a tough year for kids, but it can also be a year of so much growth’.”
McFarland sees the eighth grade year as a time when students start to open their eyes to the world around them.
“You know, learning big things about the world for the first time, like what happened in World War II, or the history of the federal government interactions with Native American tribes and seeing kids be awakened to that social justice movement and wanting to get more involved in that is a really rewarding part," McFarland said.
As part of her quest to make eighth grade a valuable year, McFarland has added in new, special reading material.
“It’s a coming of age story so kids relate to this journey of self-identity, it was written by local Montana female authors, one of whom is indigenous. Mandy Smoker is Assiniboine and Sioux. And the protagonist in Thunderous is a Lakota girl.“
Her One Class at a Time grant will go towards buying a class set of the Thunderous book. And while there are lots of lessons to learn from the plot of Thunderous and the projects they do with the novel — she hopes her students at least learn this, “That there are so many perspectives in the world and so many different stories, and how important it is to listen to each others stories.”