For some teachers, their roots in Homewood schools run deeper than their current classroom. What’s it like to see your students walk the same halls and play on the same fields as you did as a student? We asked a few people who know.
Becky Vedel Salls
Hall-Kent Elementary School Technology Specialist
1976 HHS Graduate
Years Teaching: 39
Favorite Memories as a Student: One of my favorite memories is being on safety patrol in sixth grade. Unlike our safety patrol today, we were stationed on the corners of Raleigh Avenue, Hall Avenue, and Cobb Street. We were quite a bit away from the school. We carried stop flags on poles and had whistles! It was quite an honor to be chosen and given that responsibility. Also, I believe in my day we called the Fall Festival the Halloween Carnival, but the excitement it brings to this community is still the same as it was when it started 83 years ago.
Favorite Memories as a Teacher: I thoroughly enjoyed my 20 years in the classroom. Now as tech specialist, not only do I get to help guide students in digital learning at all grade levels, but I also work with teachers in developing their knowledge of this ever-changing digital world and guide them as they integrate technology into their daily lessons.
Best Part of Being Back: Seeing others that were students come back to teach here also. It is fun to reminisce with them! Several I taught, others were in different classes, but I remember each of them as students. They love and know Hall-Kent as a special place just as I do.
What Has Changed or Not Changed: When I was a student in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Hall-Kent was a first through sixth grade school. There were only one or two classes per grade level. I know my sixth grade class had 39 students. Today, we now have an enrollment of over 700 students, and each grade level has five or six class units. One thing that has remained the same at Hall-Kent is the closeness of our school community. I have seen a lot of students, teachers, and administrators come and go in my 38 years, but I continue to feel a family closeness even as new faces walk through the door.
Homewood Middle School Seventh Grade Social Studies Teacher
2005 HHS Graduate
Years Teaching: 8
Favorite Memories as a Student: I was supported by teachers and coaches who believed that, even though we were crazy middle schoolers, we had great potential, and they were willing to invest in us. From teachers going above and beyond to make learning relevant, to awesome pep rallies and football games, there was always excitement.
Favorite Memories as a Teacher: My favorite memory was a middle school football game where we held a cross country meet before the game, and it ended in the stadium right before the football game started. Everyone was able to be there and support both groups.
Best Part of Being Back: I think it’s continuing the legacy of welcoming people from all over the world into our school. I think diversity is a huge part of our community as a whole, but our schools are unique in that people of many faiths, income levels, parts of our country, and parts of the world are all together.
What Has Changed or Not Changed: The building is new and there is more technology readily available, but the teachers and students still share a positive a relationship based on mutual respect and the desire to see students grow and become successful at whatever they chose to do with their life.
Homewood High School 11th/12th Grade Science Teacher
1994 HHS Graduate
Years Teaching: 17 years
Favorite Memories as a Student: Being able to travel out of the country for the first time in my life. I took Spanish for four years so that this could happen. We travelled to Cuernavaca, Mexico, for a week to experience the culture and language with a local family. In return, they came back to U.S. to do the same. Homewood gave me this opportunity and an experience I will never forget.
Favorite Memories as a Teacher: Some of my favorite moments are enjoying the excitement of pep rallies which make me want to play football again, looking at the pod decorations, and enjoying our diverse student body helping each other achieve.
Best Part of Being Back: Seeing the demolition and construction of buildings that provided many memories. Also, for the past three, I have taught one of my classmates’ son or daughter. It is so ironic I can pick them out because they look just like their mom or dad.
What Has Changed or Not Changed: The support from administration, co-workers and community has not changed. Everyone always checks on you to make sure you are ok and that has made it an easy transition back.
Edgewood Elementary PE Teacher + HMS Basketball and Baseball Coach
1987 Homewood High School Graduate
Years Teaching: 23
Favorite Memories as a Student: My mom was usually room mom, and every year at Christmas she would bring Christmas tree-shaped ice cream for our snack at the Christmas party. The Spring Festival was a big deal and also meant that summer was not too far away.
Favorite Memories as a Teacher: Easily my most memorable experience teaching was having the opportunity to teach both of my boys, Lawton (22) and Jack (18). Being able to see them every day throughout their time here at Edgewood was priceless.
Best Part of Being Back: As a student, I was too young to realize how fortunate we were to have the support of the parents. This school, and all of Homewood City Schools, are so fortunate to have the parental involvement that we do. Now as a teacher, I am so appreciative of all we have thanks to our board and the parents of this community.
What Has Changed or Not Changed: Obviously the building has changed a lot since my time as a student. It has grown as the number of students has increased over the years. What has not changed is the family atmosphere and the small town feel we have at Edgewood. I love the fact that it is a neighborhood school and hundreds of students still walk to school every day.
Homewood Middle School Sixth-Grade Science & Social Studies Teacher
2014 Homewood High School Graduate
Years Teaching: 1
Favorite Memories as a Student: I will never forget the Thanksgiving feast in first grade at Shades Cahaba. Dressed in Native American attire with a fox skin on my head, we reenacted the first Thanksgiving. Nor will I forget the wax museum in fourth grade where I posed as a servant to King Charles IX of France. Reflecting on those times, I am so much more appreciative of all the things our teachers did behind-the-scenes to make these events possible.
Favorite Memories as a Teacher: Nothing thrills me more than receiving an email, hours after school has ended for the day, detailing a current event, a topic they were researching, or something related to our class content. My students’ enthusiasm for learning is truly the best part of being a teacher.
Best Part of Being Back: My philosophy of teaching now is a mosaic of all of the influences of my past teachers, that has been in the works since kindergarten at Shades Cahaba. Mrs. Goss challenged me, Mrs. Lucas cared for me, Coach Sills encouraged me, Mr. Thorne emboldened me, Señora Parker enriched me, Mrs. Cole inspired me, and so many others added life to and empowered my vision of teaching.
What Has Changed or Not Changed: If one thing is certain, it is that Homewood is a town of tradition. From the wax museum and annual winter festivals, to the Watermelon Scrimmage, Immigration Simulation, and Friday night jams, Homewood is still perfectly Homewood— passionate, diversified, innovative and fiercely loyal to its students.