For Horace Mann Elementary teacher Lisa Everhart and her former student Ariana Martinez, one chance encounter has led to a renewed friendship.
Everhart is teaching reading camp this summer at Horace Mann. On the first day of class, she received a most unexpected surprise.
“Ariana was in the cafeteria with the students for breakfast,” Everhart said. “She approached me with a big smile on her face and said, ‘Do you remember me? I was in your first class at Horace Mann.’
“She did look familiar, but I could not remember her name,” Everhart continued. “She told me her name and I immediately flashed back to seeing her as a 6-year-old little girl with braids, big glasses, and an even bigger smile.”
Martinez volunteered to help in reading camp to earn tutoring hours for the A+ Program. Students are given the opportunity through the program to choose the school they wish to volunteer. For Martinez, the choice of Horace Mann was obvious. It was the first school she attended in the district.
The meeting was a complete surprise for both.
“I didn’t know I was going to be with Mrs. Everhart,” Martinez said. “When I went downstairs at the cafeteria, I looked at her and I remembered she was my first-grade teacher.
“I was so happy to see her again,” she continued. “It’s definitely a good memory seeing your teacher again after so many years.”
Although Everhart may not have recognized Martinez immediately, the memories of her former student soon came flooding back.
“Ariana was in my very first class at Horace Mann,” Everhart said. “I remember her being very enthusiastic about school, enjoying the many activities that we did, and being a good friend to others. She was a great student.
“Every teacher remembers their first class,” she continued. “It's such an overwhelming, exciting, and very memorable year. It's the first time that you are completely in charge of your own class. There's so much to learn, to teach, and to share.”
Like Everhart, Martinez has memories of their time in the classroom.
“My favorite memory I have towards Mrs. Everhart would be she always had patience with me and if I didn’t understand anything she would take her time, and re-teach it to me if it was necessary,” Martinez shared. “She influenced my life and I remembered great memories towards her always helping others and making sure everyone got along during her class. She is an amazing teacher, I definitely like how she tries to help all the students.”
Martinez now has the opportunity to work with young students in the classroom during reading camp.
“The best part working with the students is that if they don’t understand the lesson I help them out,” Martinez explained. “These little kids are so amazing, I like talking to them and playing with them.
“Mrs. Everhart and I been able to catch up on our lives. She’s definitely a sweet and amazing person, I love how she helps every student. She plays with the students and has a lot of patience with them.”
According to Everhart, Martinez has been a tremendous help during reading camp.
“She's been very reliable, attends everyday, and is willing to help out whenever someone needs extra attention or direction,” Everhart noted. “She's an extra set of hands, an extra set of eyes, and works wonderfully with all the students. She's helped me prepare some of the craft activities for the students, turned on all the computers prior to our scheduled lab time, and has been a good role model for the students to follow.”
Everhart said she’s been able to reconnect with many previous students through the A+ Program and that the elementary students love having A+ students in class.
As for the future, Everhart plans to return to Horace Mann this fall for her 12th year at the school.
Martinez will be a senior at Smith-Cotton. She is involved in a variety of student activities, serving as FCCLA president and an officer in FBLA. She is also a member of the tennis and track and field teams. She plans to attend either State Fair Community College or Missouri Western State University to earn a degree in business. Ultimately, she hopes to open her own car dealership.
The pair plan to stay in touch now they have reconnected. Everhart hopes to see many of her first students as they graduate in May.
“I’m definitely going to the Smith-Cotton graduation ceremony in May so I can see all my grown-up ‘kiddos’ walk across the stage,” she commented before adding, “It’s such a small world.”