Editor’s note: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week 2020, we are running a series of stories highlighting a handful of educators in Daviess County. While we realize that every teacher deserves recognition, especially during these trying times, we’re able to tell just a few of their stories this week with the help from their school principals.
Day 3: Trinity High School’s Christina Rhodes took a last-minute call to fill a vacant teaching position nearly three decades ago, and it didn’t take long for her to know she wanted to make it a career.
Christina Rhodes took her first teaching position on a whim just two weeks before school started 27 years ago. She fell in love quickly, and though her roles have changed over time, Rhodes is still going strong at Trinity High School.
Rhodes said before she was a teacher, she worked in mortgage banking. Her aunt was the principal of Trinity High School at the time.
“About two weeks before school started their Spanish teacher had taken another job, and I had had five years of Spanish,” she said. “My aunt called to ask if I might be interested in the position, and I took the job.”
Rhodes said she planned to try it out for a few years, but she knew early on that it was a career path she wanted to pursue long term.
“I had to go back and get my teaching certificate and my teacher’s degree,” she said. “I had a college education, it just wasn’t in education. So I had to go back and be certified. I did everything in reverse.”
It was tough sledding in the early years as she balanced teaching with her own education.
“I had five classes,” she said. “I would have to go home and prepare for them every night on top of grading the papers, so it took me a couple of years to get into a rhythm before I could start taking my courses. Then I was teaching all day and going to school at Western Kentucky University.”
Nearly three decades later, Rhodes is running a tight ship.
“She is a good example for our younger teachers — the way she runs her classroom,” said principal Emily Hernandez. “She is a great example of how to manage. Christina is a strict teacher and she has high expectations. They want to meet her expectations. They all end up loving her, and they respect her. ”
Though Rhodes may be strict, Hernandez said she goes out of her way to meet the needs of students and build lasting relationships with them.
“If there is something going on with a student she will reach out to help them,” Hernandez said. “She has a great relationship with many past students. They will come to her and ask her for advice, let her know how they are doing. You can just see the impact she has had on their lives. They know she wants them to be successful.”
Rhodes said she knows the relationships she builds with students will last a lifetime.
“I read somewhere that in 30-40 years someone is going to speak your name and remember you (as a teacher),” she said. “I feel like I get that. I think about the teachers that impacted me that I’m still talking about 15, 20, 30 years later. That’s a blessing and a huge responsibility.”
Rhodes also took on the position of athletic director last year, and she was only able to teach two classes as a result.
“It’s been really difficult getting used to not having every class,” she said. “It was difficult not to teach every student, but athletics kept me busy so there was no way I could have.”
Though she’s had to sacrifice some time in the classroom, she’s still able to interact with many students because of the close-knit community and small size of Trinity.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said. “It’s something I never thought I would want to do. My mother was a teacher. I have other family members who are teachers. It was my calling, it’s where I am supposed to be.”