In Marie Feazel’s class, students hear a story. And in some cases, they hear that story backward.
“Personally, I like a good story,” said Feazel, who teaches United States history at Glynn Academy. “I think American history has got the greatest story.”
Rather than teaching the course in chronological order, as is the standard practice for many history classes, Feazel flips the course around.
This tactic is one of the many ways Feazel ensures her students remain engaged in the subject she’s teaching.
This year, Feazel’s innovative teaching style and passion for her profession earned her the title of Glynn County’s Teacher of the Year. It was an honor she said she was shocked to receive.
“As a teacher, you don’t think about the awards and accolades,” she said. “It’s about doing your job, and it’s about making sure that you educate the students to the best of your ability.”
But Feazel’s work ethic, leadership talents and captivating method of teaching are well-known around Glynn Academy’s campus.
“She makes coming to work fun,” said Heather Harp, who teaches world history at Glynn Academy. “She’s such a team player for everybody. She’s the one, if you have any issue, you can to go to her about anything. She’s a true team player.”
Feazel also leads the social studies department at Glynn Academy. She’s in her fifth year teaching at the high school and her 17th year teaching history.
“She truly cares for her social studies department teachers and all of us respect and admire her for that,” said Leslie Whitlow, a social studies teacher. “She works hard to help us make instruction our No. 1 priority, gives constructive criticism as well as praise when needed and walks the talk. She is not going to ask you to do something that she won’t or doesn’t do herself.”
Feazel’s fast-paced teaching style keeps her students on their feet and classes entertaining and informative.
“Her brain goes to 90 from nothing, nonstop,” Harp said. “She’s an animated teacher, and she’s got her ‘Feazel-isms’ about it. The kids always remark about that.”
Feazel said she makes sure to involve her students in the story she’s telling.
“It’s more than just heroes and holidays,” she said. “History deals with events that are pertinent to issues today and also helps inspire why we create the bridges, why we create the buildings, why we’re involved in the processes to cure diseases — we’ve seen these lessons from history.”
Her interactive teaching style engages the students by transforming history lectures into conversations. She randomly calls on students in class, asking their opinions and for their interpretations.
“You can’t stand up and lecture the whole time, because they need to participate through discussion, and they have opinions,” she said. “And they’re in 11th grade, they should.”
Her classroom is set up in “pods,” with students sitting in grouped desks of four. In these pods, students engage in small group discussions and review primary sources together.
“It’s amazing to me what the kids can pull out of those documents when they actually just take a beat and think about it,” Feazel said.
Feazel uses all the primary sources she can get her hands on. She teaches her students how to take an informational text and make inferences, to judge for bias and to consider source credibility.
“It’s a 21st century skill,” she said. “It’s what makes history applicable.”
Feazel was nominated as Glynn Academy’s Teacher of the Year for the 2017-18 school year, and she went on to win the county title at the annual Teacher of the Year banquet, hosted by the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce in November.
Applications were sent in December for the state-wide Teacher of the Year competition, and Feazel is awaiting word on those results.
Feazel is a leader on Glynn Academy’s campus, Harp said, who deserved to be recognized at the county level.
“She sacrifices so much for everybody else, and it’s kind of like a lot of what she does is the grunt work, so that we don’t necessarily understand all that she does,” Harp said. “She wears so many different hats around this campus. ... She’s just the epitome of what it is to be a Teacher of the Year.”
Feazel said she sees her daily job as a privilege.
It’s an honor, she said, to teach the kinds of hard-working, well-rounded students she says come through her class and to lead the dedicated staff members who make up the school’s social studies department.
“The students take multiple AP classes, they work in their community and then they work part time,” she said. “It’s a privilege to get to teach a student like that, and I take that very seriously.”
The entire department is passionate about the role they play in educating students, she said.
“The fact that I get to lead such a committed group of educators, that’s icing on the cake,” Feazel said. “I feel very privileged and very blessed about that.”