Hometown: Morganton, NC
Education: Lenoir-Rhyne College—B.A., Radford University—M.S.
Year Appointed: 1994
Current Position: Faculty - Middle School English
When I walked in she had a group of students in her room for study hall. I quickly took advantage of the opportunity and asked what they thought about Ms. Farley. Their answers varied, but all had a similar tone. “She is the coolest teacher in the school,” said one student. Another said, “she teaches us without teaching,” and another said, “I’ve always felt really welcome when I come to her class.” Just from that alone it was easy to see that the students loved her and her class. I asked Ms. Farley what she loved about teaching; she said “teaching is my passion, but it’s not what I want to teach them, it’s about what they need.” Ms.Farley has a scrapbook that goes back to her first year of teaching. In it she has every letter a student or parent ever wrote her about how she helped them, or their child. Whether it was giving them that extra help they needed in the classroom, or making them excited about reading and writing, or even a little boost of confidence they needed socially. All of the notes are there. When asked about her colleague, Mrs. Garrett said of her “Ms. Farley is a master at connecting with students. They all feel a sense of belonging in her classroom because she creates a community atmosphere, which is most important to middle school students.”
In addition to being a good teacher, I quickly learned that Ms. Farley is fun inside and outside of the classroom. I learned about her beloved cannon (yes, a real life-size cannon!) that she named Humpty Dumpty, not for the egg, but for the actual cannon from the 1600s from which the egg story originated. Ms. Farley’s students learn all about this when they read Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass.” I met her classroom friends: “Bert” the holepuncher, “Moe” the tape dispenser, and “Bob and Flora” the pencil sharpeners. I also learned that her passions outside the classroom include photography (mostly birds and flowers), her farm in Floyd, and her family, especially her mother, artist Juanita Sigmon, her daughter, Emily ‘96, son, Calin, and two grandchildren, Lola Gail and Jakeob.
With all the fun we were having, I had to refocus on the task at hand and wanted to learn more about her years at North Cross. Ms. Farley has taught in the middle school for all 20 years that she has been at North Cross. Not only has she taught reading, writing, and grammar, but she also used to be in charge of the middle school plays, taught HORIZONS (a drug awareness and self-esteem class), and organized the school spelling bees. Not to mention her love of all things “Hobbit”, from homemade t-shirts about the book to private viewings of the movies, every middle school student has a fond place for this book in their heart because of Ms. Farley. She says, “The children really connect with The Hobbit, it excites them and any book that excites them, excites me!” One of her favorite memories is from last summer when the upper school Global Studies students traveled to New Zealand and took a picture of where The Hobbit was filmed for her; their 6th grade English teacher.
I concluded my “interview” by asking Mr. Dickenson what made Ms. Farley such a special teacher. His response was, “Ms. Farley has a rare ability to impact her passion for reading and writing on her students in a very lasting and meaningful way. She loves working with young people, and her class is always alive with energy and ideas. She is profoundly talented at helping students to self-respect, to read with an analytical eye, and to express themselves effectively in writing and speech.”
I had such a great time interviewing Ms. Farley, and I hope this “Teacher Feature” makes it in her scrapbook, along with the many fond memories she shares with her past students and colleagues.
Written by: Whitney Aldridge