By Anna Patterson

 Angela invests a significant amount of time in giving students the confidence to acheive academic success. 

When we look back on our years of education, we often have one teacher who stands out to us. One who made a particularly lasting impression for the better. The kind of teacher who went above and beyond the job requirements to help, encourage, and make all the difference in our education.

Angela Ghafoori is that kind of teacher.

After having her first son at age 15, Angela refused to conform to the stereotypes of a teenage single mother. After high school, she attended the University of Louisville and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication followed by a master’s degree in education.

Angela began working at Stuart Middle School in the Language Arts department. After five years in that position, she was asked to transfer to a new department: The Transition Center. She would be working with a small group of at-risk children – those struggling with attendance, classroom behavior, and keeping up with their academic workload.

At first, Angela was hesitant. This new role was a step out of her comfort zone. Uncharted territory. But she knew these were the types of students she wanted to reach. With a leap of faith, Angela became Stuart’s first transition teacher.

In contrast to a usual class of 30, Angela’s class contains no more than 10 students at a time. “In a regular classroom, it can be hard to focus on individuals who are struggling,” she says. “[This class] helps get kids back on track and where they need to be.” Students will come to the Transition Center for one to two periods, then return to their core classes. This class offers computerized programming to help students better understand their material, as well as one-on-one counseling to set higher academic goals.

Although it is challenging work, Angela says it is worth the effort. She recalls the story of one 8th grade transfer student in particular. He was brilliant, she says, but he hated his new school and refused to socialize with his peers. As a result, he was put into Angela’s class for four out of the seven periods.

The first week was a nonstop argument between Angela and the student about why he had to do his social studies homework. Eventually, the student relented and began working. Over time, he and Angela developed a relationship. Now they discuss academic goals and even joke around.

But Angela’s proudest moment came when she received a report from the student’s counselor. The report stated that the student now enjoyed going to school — a complete turnaround from the beginning of the year. That simple statement, she says, made her year.

Angela has found a home at Stuart and has no plans to leave any time soon. Apart from the Transition Center, Angela is head of the Language Arts department and mentors new teachers. Her advice to them: Go in with high expectations, and hold your students to those expectations. “That’s where teachers fall short,” Angela says. “Kids will only do what you allow them to do. My students know I am strict, but I love them. Everything I do is in their best interest.”

When she’s not teaching, Angela is baking sweet treats for her friends and family. 

Angela spends her time away from the classroom with her husband, and three sons, Eric, Azzan, and Elias. She is also a cupcake fanatic who bakes themed batches for family, and she’s even catered events for close friends. You can check out Angela’s ideas and recipes on her blog.