A Conversation with One of America’s Top Teachers
December 13, 2002 - Teresa Luna, a Union University graduate was selected to the USA Today All-USA Teachers First Team.
- B.A. Union University History/English
- M.S. University of Memphis
- Currently employed at Jackson Central-Merry High School as teacher and Academic Decathlon Coach since 1988.
- Previously taught at Crockett County High School 1986-88
- Was also an Admissions Counselor for Union University from 1979-84.
- Tennessee Education Association
- National Education Association
- Board Member--Tennessee Academic Decathlon
- Governor's Transition Committee
- Husband: Tony, 1978 graduate of Union University
- Son: Justin, 21
- Daughter: Lauren, 18
How do you spend your time?
I enjoy speaking to classes at Union University. I love tutoring kids at all levels. I enjoy raising money for worthwhile causes. Through my job I encounter numerous opportunities of ministry and I am always blessed to serve my fellow man in this way. My hobbies include traveling (particularly in Europe), reading, retail therapy (shopping).
What is your favorite book?
I hate this question-- I can never make up my mind what to say!
I have to read so much to teach my classes, so you would think I am a real dork if I told you the truth. I love textbooks! I love to study an event in history from many different perspectives and even go back and find first-hand accounts of people who lived through it. I also like autobiographies and I am a sucker for a good love story—especially if it is summertime when I am reading it.
What is the biggest challenge you face in education?
Convincing a young person of his/her potential. Kids today are so bright, yet have so many challenges. I see my role as a teacher as someone who helps them see beyond today. I hope I can give them a glimpse of how their talents and skills can positively change the world. Helping them catch on to a dream, no matter what their circumstances happen to be is the greatest joy of teaching. I have learned that kids with discipline problems are actually just those who are crying out for love and help. It makes a real difference to handle those problems from that perspective.
What is your biggest motivator?
Academically, I am extremely competitive, maybe too much so. (If you are driving down the street beside me I even feel compelled to race with you!) When I coach the Academic Decathlon team at my school, I want them to be as prepared as possible and achieve at their highest potential. I love to see kids achieve more than they thought was possible. That is a real charge
In the rest of my life, I believe that Jesus lived his life in service, I want to try to
do the same. I am happiest when I am helping someone else.
What is your advice to other teachers?
Try to look at each student as someone God has put into your path for a reason. Love them all--especially the unlovable. When your teaching career is over, it will be your greatest challenges that will mean the most. Above all, believe in them until they can believe in themselves.