For 14 years, Pierce has taught advanced English language classes and led the choir at Tuscaloosa County High, where she began her teaching career after graduating from the University of Alabama.
Pierce sees first-hand the enormous pressure put on today’s young adults to stand out from their peers and chase certain standards of success. She believes relief from the pressures they face comes in part from the support they receive at home. Her advice for parents with children facing the trials of young adulthood is simple.
“Don’t put unrealistic expectations on your children,” Pierce said. “They already feel a great deal of pressure in school. They don’t need the added anxiety associated with not living up to your expectations. It’s okay if your child doesn’t make an A.”
Parents and teachers alike play an important role in building the confidence of young people and encouraging their success. The students Pierce sees walking in the hallway every day are the future leaders of our community – a responsibility she does not take lightly.
“Students remember every word you say to them, whether positive or negative,” she said. “You can be the one to push them to achieve their dreams, or the one who causes those dreams to die. Your words are life or death. Love on your students, because you may be the only one to ever show them love.”
The influence Pierce has on the students at Tuscaloosa County High not only improves their experience as a student, but also creates a group of confident, socially conscious individuals who will carry Tuscaloosa into a brighter future.
“We should always be in search of more, hoping to better ourselves as individuals and as a society,” Pierce said. “I teach my students to think for themselves and to not easily accept everything they hear. I teach them the importance of acknowledging past mistakes, in the hopes of not repeating them, and I teach them that their brain is their greatest investment, because it has the potential for the biggest return.”
While the English lessons Pierce teaches her students are vital to her students’ educations, the unwavering support and acceptance they feel from their time in her classroom supports their personal growth. With the help of social media, Pierce continues to build relationships with many of her former students long after they graduate, start jobs, and begin families of their own.
“I hope that my students walk away saying that I loved them, that they mattered, that their success was important to me, and that they learned.”