GLEN ALLEN, VA (WWBT) - There’s a lot of learning happening inside Amanda Hach’s classroom at Glen Allen High School.
But this history teacher would be the first to tell you that some of the most valuable lessons aren’t coming out of a textbook.
“When you allow yourself to really get to know somebody else, especially someone that is different from you, they have the power to open your eyes," she said.
And that’s a philosophy Hach wanted to incorporate into a program called STEP - Student Transformation and Empowerment Project.
It pairs unassuming freshman with juniors to give them academic support and coping skills to deal with the struggles of high school.
"We wanted to be able to give them a community, a family, that kind of kitchen table atmosphere to get their work done,” said Hach.
Principal Reginald Davenport is happy to have Hach fulfilling the mission he has for the students.
“We have a diverse group of students here and we want to make sure we reach all students," said Davenport. "I don’t want to see one student fall behind because they can’t connect with someone in the building.”
Hach was instrumental in getting the STEP program off the ground, but she’s also a key player in the success of “Battle of the Classes,” a school-wide spirit competition where the different grade levels compete against each other.
Throughout the year students can earn points at various events, culminating in a big celebration in the gym, a sight Hach loves to see.
“It’s just a cool way to get the students together from different walks of life. You have kids that are good at art, kids that are good at dance, sports and they can come together," she said.
Hach has an infectious, positive vibe that’s undeniable. Pair that with her desire to create spaces for students to embrace each other’s differences, and you can see why she’s such valuable asset to the students and families in Glen Allen.
NBC12 acknowledged her hard work, with this month’s “Excellence in Education” award, sponsored by Henrico Federal Credit Union.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to think about the ways in which you may have impacted people and you never know then something like this happens, Anthony shows up in your classroom," she said when presented the award.
Hach is fostering an environment where students are able to find common ground, and see life through the eyes of someone else without leaving the building.
But in this case, the learning goes both ways.
“They teach me more than I teach them,” she said. "I am a much better person, teacher, friend, family member, because I have met a lot of the students that have walked in and out of this room over the past couple years.”