Each week, the #SpanningtheNeed podcast will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured is a Regina Helmick, from the LaBrae School District. Nominate someone now.
Name: Regina M. Helmick
Position: LaBrae High School English Teacher
School District: LaBrae Local Schools
What made you want to go into the education field?
My love of the written word and many years of coaching high school cheerleading lead me to my career in education. I value and admire the individuality, the intelligence, and the zest of young adults and want to offer them a place to be heard.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful in education?
I continuously remind myself that each of my students is a son or a daughter. Seeing with parental eyes ensures I never forget compassion.
What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
Years before I became a teacher, a sassy yet respectful senior cheerleader gave me an unexpected thank you card as she exited the cheer bus from our last basketball game. Knowing that she was not always in agreement with my coaching methods, I was shocked by her gesture. Her writing in the card revealed her observant nature as she acknowledged the ups and downs of our last four years. She thanked me for what I thought she never noticed. However, her “P.S.” line revealed my “biggest professional mistake.” It read, “Don’t make your favorites so obvious.” I interminably reread these six words, and they still play over and over in my mind. Seeing my actions through her eyes made me a better coach then and makes me a better teacher today.
What is the best advice you can give future educators or the public?
Ask for and be willing to listen to student feedback. They know you as a teacher better than any principal, colleague, or professor ever will.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession?
What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
As the final song of almost every family wedding in Fairmont, West Virginia, John Denver’s “Country Roads” fills me with unparalleled comfort. The vivid memory of swaying arm and arm and singing off key with generations of those I love and that love me plays in my mind no matter when or where I hear this song.
What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?Becoming a mom ranks as my top life experience, grounding me and giving me purpose.
Who is your role model and Why?
My mom is my role model. She raised my four brothers, my sister, and me with love and faith. She supported all of our interests and allowed us to prosper as individuals, all while instilling an unmatched work ethic. Her patience and acceptance created the ideal environment for children to be children, and her own actions created the archetype needed for us to grow into successful and fulfilled adults.
If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present, who would it be and why?
I would like to meet my mom when she was in high school. I would love to know the strong, young woman responsible for my confidence and my faithfulness.
A favorite quote that you live by?
“I am a human being, not a human doing.” ~Kurt Vonnegut