Teacher mixes wit into curriculum

Stephani Whisenant

Begin with a base of vocabulary, grammar and literature.

Throw in a touch of dry wit, a dollop of hard work and bake…for 9,405 minutes.

The result? Department Chair Lisa Prejean’s English classes.

“She’s an awesome teacher,” senior AP English student Joey Wilder said. “Her laid back attitude is nice. She’s a lot more sarcastic than any other teacher I had and she really connects with the students in that way. We have fun in her class. It’s probably one of my favorite classes this year.”

Prejean, who has been teaching for 25 years, 20 of which have been at Bryan High, has taught various levels of English from a TAKS a mediation class to English II regular and PAP, to English IV AP and regular, and now IB senior English.

Prejean has known she wanted to be a teacher since elementary school and that desire was reinforced during her high school years.

“The main reason I stay in teaching is because I like the kids,” Prejean said. “I like getting to know them every year because every group is different, I mean there are similarities, but the personalities and getting to seem them be successful is why I stay in it.”

Having a close connection with her students isn’t the only thing that separates Prejean from some of the other teachers. She also has a daughter at Bryan High.

“I love having her on campus,” Prejean said. “She doesn’t always love it though. When she was a freshman she would tell me: ‘don’t even look at me, don’t even acknowledge that I exist, don’t talk to me, don’t tell your kids about me’, but as she’s gotten older I think she began to appreciate me being here.”

Junior Allie Prejean says that it was hard to adjust to having her mother on campus.

“I was embarrassed my freshmen year,” Allie said. “The first day of school I told her to give me space and act like I didn’t exist, I didn’t want anyone to know my mom was a teacher.”

And as her mother believes, Allie does appreciate having her mom on campus now.

“She always lends me a hand if I need her,” Allie said, “and if I forget something, she will have it for me.”

As her students will attest to though, Prejean is not just there for her own daughter, but to make sure all of her students have what they need to be successful.

“She’s always available for questions about projects or before a test,” senior Blake Maass said. “She makes sure she is available whenever we need the extra help.”

Her hard work and dedication is evident in all areas of her teaching as she does whatever is necessary to make sure her students are successful.

“She teaches well,” Maass said. “She always keeps the class interesting which allows us to really learn the material.”

Another aspect that impacts the dynamics of Prejean’s classroom is the way she incorporates technology through the T3 grant.

“I use technology mostly for communication, like communication through the Facebook groups, and using Google docs,” Prejean said. “The Facebook group is really used to remind students of assignments, quizzes and tests, and to send out links. It allows for better, more efficient communication.”

Prejean also takes advantage of technology when it comes to turning in assignments and checking work.

“I use Google docs to share documents with students and I use Turnitin.com to check for plagiarism,” Prejean said. I try to teach them to use these mediums to get information and find out information for themselves. The more sharing of knowledge the students have, the better they are at finding a global perspective.”

Prejean hopes that with technology and her own original style of teaching, she can leave a good impression on her students as they go to college.

“The best compliment a student can pay me is to say ‘what I learned from you I used in college’,” Prejean said. “I had a student come back and tell me that our class discussions were way better than the ones they had in college, and that’s a compliment.”

Prejean’s main goal in teaching is to help her students and give them skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

“I hope I teach them responsibility, integrity, and to do their own work and be proud of the work they do,” Prejean said. “I hope I give them the skills they need to be successful in college.”