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Leading Courageously with SBS Teacher Michelle Alderfer

History buff and native Texan Michelle Alderfer shares with us her passion for student leadership, American history and middle school students.
Michelle Alderfer has been teaching at Second Baptist School since 2012, leaving the corporate world to pursue her passion for working with students. She says it was the best decision she’s ever made. In addition to teaching American history, Mrs. Alderfer is also the department head for the middle school history department and middle school student leadership sponsor. She mentors students, leads meetings and helps students take part in leadership opportunities in the SBS community. Her dedication to inspiring students to lead courageously comes through in all she does, even her love of her subject.

About Michelle Alderfer
Michelle Alderfer was born and raised in Houston, Texas; she’s a sixth-generation Texan! She attended Texas Tech University for her undergraduate degree and holds an MEd in curriculum and instruction from Houston Baptist University. Soon, she will complete her MA in American history and government from Ashland University in Ohio, focusing on the ratification of the 19th amendment and universal suffrage. 

Middle School Appreciation
Teaching is Mrs. Alderfer’s second profession, but she “got here as soon as [she] could.” When asked what she enjoys most about teaching middle schoolers, she answers, “This age is the absolute best, hands down. Students in middle school are, in a word, fun. But what I also love about them is that they are hard-working and relational.” She enjoys building relationships with her students and counts on her eighth grade girls to keep her “up-to-date on what is trendy.” Her students would tell you, she always has a fact of the day, loves coffee and plays classical versions of pop songs in her classroom. 

History Buff
Mrs. Alderfer’s zeal for history extends even to her four-legged friend; her dog Bridger is named after famous mountain man and fur trapper James Bridger. She explains that history is not only the story of how our country and government came to be, but also something that impacts our everyday lives. Her personal favorite historical era is the founding era; she says she loves the “struggle for independence and the heroes of the time, namely Washington and Hamilton.” She also admires the leadership of Abraham Lincoln as someone who led the country through one of our nation’s toughest times with grace and dignity. It’s not a stretch to understand her passion for leaders in our history extends to her enthusiasm for leadership amongst our SBS students. By studying leaders who led courageously in their times, students learn what leadership looks like. 

Leadership in Action
Eighth grade is a critical year, shares Alderfer, “because they get to be the leaders of middle school, and it is the culminating year of the middle school experience.” In middle school, “we really try to encourage students that leadership can be small acts of service throughout the community.” She continues, “Leadership doesn’t have to look like Washington rowing across the Delaware River in the middle of winter; it can be as simple as holding the door open for someone, offering to clean up after lunch or assisting a teacher.” To make this point to her students, she had teachers send her highlights of students leading courageously behind the scenes, and she recognized those students publicly. “The goal was to show that their efforts were noticed, even when they thought no one was watching, and to encourage others to do the same.”

When asked how she leads courageously, Mrs. Alderfer answers, “I am not afraid to try new things, especially for the benefit of my students. I think it takes courage to try new things in front of a group of 14-year-olds, but I am all in when it comes to making class enjoyable, engaging and worthwhile.” 

Truly, Michelle Alderfer exemplifies what it means to be genuinely invested as an SBS teacher. 
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