A couple weeks ago, students and faculty of Florence High School found out that one of the school’s most beloved teachers, Mrs. Banks, is leaving. Mrs. Banks majored in Graphic Design in college and was working as an Art Director before she decided she needed a change.
“I wanted something with less demands on my time because my husband and I were ready to start a family,” she explained.
She found out about a job opening here at FHS teaching Web Design and Digital Photography and took it, though she “had never taught and knew nothing about teaching.”
In the 8 years since she took the job, Mrs.Banks has taught Graphic Design 1 & 2, Web Design 1 & 2, Desktop Publishing, Digital Photography, Personal Finance, and Visual Arts. Out of those, she says that she has enjoyed teaching Graphic Design 1&2 and Visual Arts the most because they’re more centered around design.
She also started the business academy four years ago along with Mrs.Helms, and while she isn’t as involved with the instruction as she used to be, she is still greatly involved with DECA and is the Yearbook sponsor.
“I love both DECA and Yearbook for different reasons,” Mrs.Banks explained. “I love all the girls on my yearbook staff, and they work very hard putting many, many hours into creating a great yearbook. I love the design and layout process and getting to lead the staff members through that process. I enjoy getting to know the girls and forming a relationship with each one. I love DECA for the same reason: forming relationships with the students that you cannot achieve in a classroom. I enjoying seeing the students succeed and share in their excitement about the great field trips we are able to take.” said Mrs.Banks.
“I thought teaching would be easy……..boy, was I wrong! It has been the most challenging thing I have ever done!” Mrs.Banks confessed.
But, if you’ve ever met Mrs.Banks, you know she isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
“After crying almost every day my first year teaching, I finally got more comfortable with it, and learned a lot through my Master’s in Teaching degree. It is still a difficult job, with each day and each student bringing a new set of challenges, but it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done or will ever do. As I said earlier, I love being able to share my passion with the students and igniting a similar passion in them,” she told The Talon.
As she leaves Florence High School, she is leaving behind that kind of lasting impact and inspiration that will live on through her students.
“Throughout my experience in her class, we got real work experience designing logos or posters for real companies, all of which I wouldn’t have gotten to do without her,” said FHS Senior Adam Purvis.
Mrs.Banks has always been a joy for her students to see when they walked into her classes.
“Mrs. Banks was the funniest teacher I’ve met. She impacted students’ lives by making learning a little bit more fun than it should be. I’m going to miss seeing her in yearbook and making jokes with her.” said Kelly Corley, a sophomore member of the yearbook staff.
“I’ll miss coming into class and seeing her all peppy and happy without a worry in the world,” commented Caitlin Shannon, a sophomore.
“Mrs.Banks always made the classes more fun with her good attitude,” Adam Purvis agreed and went on to note that, “since she designs most of everything at the high school, I really don’t feel like the school would have had much of an identity without her.”
For anyone who is considering a career in design, Mrs.Banks cautions, “It is very competitive and you have to constantly learn new skills and improve the skills you have. You also have to have thick skin – be able to take criticism and learn from it.” Yet as you can tell from her decision to pursue it, if you can do that and have the passion for design, it can be very rewarding.
Mrs.Clark is one of our assistant principals and also happens to be Mrs.Banks’s sister. She said, “Mrs. Banks is an amazing teacher, club sponsor, yearbook adviser, colleague, and employee. FHS loves her because of her willingness to always help when asked, her talent for design, her passion for quality instruction in her classroom, her smile and kind spirit, and her ability to make all our PR stuff and website look AMAZING. She is irreplaceable and will be greatly missed!”
After Thanksgiving break she will be “taking a job as an Instructional Technologist for the Mississippi Department of Education. [She] will be preparing, DESIGNING, and delivering professional development to teachers across the state on ways to incorporate technology into their classroom.” She says that “It was a very difficult decision to make because [she does] love teaching and [she loves her] students, but [she] will have the chance to use [her] design skills every day and [is] very excited about that opportunity!”
When asked what she’ll miss the most when she leaves, she replied, “The thing I love most about FHS is that we are a FAMILY. I will miss my yearbook staff and our DECA members that I have developed a close relationship with. I will miss helping students learn to love design. I will miss the close friendships I have formed with my fellow staff members!”
Finally, she shared some of her favorite memories from FHS, telling The Talon, “ There really are too many favorites to count. DECA dances, our trip to Anaheim, CA, Atlanta, GA, and Orlando, FL are packed full of memories and laughs I will never forget. Our many hours spent working on the yearbook or eating ice cream and pizza in Oxford during yearbook camp. Lots and lots of laughs. Trips to Sam’s with Helms with overflowing buggies. Hallway pow wows with Helms, Rankin, and Freeman. Being snarky with Gunter. Laughs with the front office ladies and fellow teachers. Seeing my big sister every day. Cheering for our DECA and Academy students as they win competitions. Seeing a student learn something new or discover how much they enjoy designing. And, I will probably forever smell of coffee….”
Without a doubt, Mrs. Banks has definitely made her mark on Florence High School in her 8 years here. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is no question that Mrs. Banks is the perfect example of this quote living through a person, and those who were touched by her optimistic, creative, kind spirit will never forget her. Though it goes without saying, The Talon, as well as the students and faculty of FHS, wish her the best as she begins the next chapter in her life!
Written by Robin Hegwood, Copy and Design Editor