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Teacher, sponsor Quarles inspires BCHS students in so many ways

By Van Wade

BRIDGE CITY – Since 1984, our country has been honoring teachers with Teacher Appreciation Week.

It has always been a great time to honor teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.

Teachers play such a vital role in educating and shaping our children. They are kind, patient and hard-working, dedicated and understanding professionals who help mold our children and guide them in positive directions.

One of them that has been doing it for years is Jamie Aarons Quarles, who was recently named the Bridge City High School Teacher of the Year.

“Jamie is such an inspiration and spark to not only our kids, but to the entire staff and administration,” said Bridge City High School Principal Tim Woolley. “She always steps up to the plate and is an amazing team player.”

Quarles was extremely honored about the recognition.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Quarles. “I so didn’t expect it, for sure. We have so many quality educators and staff members and it makes me feel so good, because so many other outstanding people were worthy. I just love what I do, and the support system here from the administration and teachers makes Bridge City a tremendous atmosphere to work in. The kids make it even more special.”

Quarles, a 1995 Bridge City graduate, is in her 21st year of teaching, including 11 at Bridge City.

She comes from a tremendous educational background.

Her late father, Jim Aarons, was a long-time teacher, coach and administrator within the district and was principal for a long time. Her mother, Debbie, taught math in the Bridge City district for years and years, seeing generations of Cardinals flourish. Debbie still has the passion as well. She retired, but still teaches in the West-Orange Stark district a half a day at times.

Quarles stepped up this year and became chair of the Math Department.

“It’s been her first year in that capacity and she has done excellent in filling that role,” said Woolley. “She teaches Pre AP Algebra II, Algebra II and College Algebra. Most people think that math is such a tough subject and that kids don’t like it, but the kids enjoy the way she teaches it. She makes it fun and brings a lot of energy to it and the kids love her for that.”

Quarles loves teaching the subject and loves to bring a unique style in the classroom.

“I start out every year telling the kids, ‘I know math is your favorite subject’, and I always get those funny looks,” laughed Quarles. “I have always wanted to make it fun and make sure that each and everyone of them are important. I encourage them that every question is a good question. I try my best to explain it to the best of my ability and it’s so much more than just trying to solve an equation.”

Quarles has also taught not only her class, but the one next to her at times this school year after the departure of another teacher.

“She really answered the bell on that for sure,” said Woolley. “To teach two classes like that is not an easy thing to do and we deeply appreciate her for that.”

Not only is Quarles the math department head and teacher, she is also the National Honor Society sponsor for the high school.

“Jamie stays busy as a bee and she’s definitely in it for the kids and they realize that and they really love her for constantly being there for them,” said Woolley. “She has been so busy during this COVID-19 situation. She’s working so hard on planning for our new NHS inductees and how we’re going to go about it before the new year starts.”

Quarles enjoys spending time with all of the NHS kids.

“I believe I have been doing that for 10 years now and I have loved every second of it,” said Quarles. “Cheryl Royal, our great Student Activities Director, did an amazing job before that and I learned a lot from her. We do a lot of fun stuff and those kids are not only excellent in the classroom, they’re involved in so many things in making the school district shine and are involved in so many school functions. They always make us all so proud.”

Quarles, inspired by the work ethic of her parents, knew teaching was in her “cards” at an early age.

“You can definitely say that the teaching profession was definitely my calling,” said Quarles. “My mother has always been an inspiration and she loved math for sure, but she has always loved the interaction with the kids and she has always got so much satisfaction of seeing kids excel. My Dad, I loved him dearly. He wore so many hats from teacher, coach and administrator. Working in all of those capacities, he knew what every employee needed to succeed because he once worked in their shoes. I can definitely say education is in my blood.”

Not only do teacher and administrators weigh-in on Teacher of the Year honors, students can also weigh-in on the nominees. For so many Bridge City students. Mrs. Quarles is special.

Principal Woolley was generous enough to send in several anonymous quotes from students during the nomination process and here were a couple great ones:

“Mrs. Quarles is an excellent teacher and is always taking care of others. I’m in her pre-AP class and sometimes I struggle a little bit, but she is always open for us to ask questions and if we don’t want to say it out loud, she will know if we need help and personally comes to help us. Whenever there is a problem she is always there to help, whether it is personal or not, she will listen to you and even give you some advice. She creates strong bonds with her students and her classes are fun. When I have a bad day or just not the best day ever, I look forward to going to her class (7th period) and never fails to make me smile.”

“Mrs. Quarles is an incredible teacher and inspirational person to all students, not just her own. She is helpful and understanding when it comes to academics and real life conflicts students confide in her with. She also had the tremendous stress of having to teach the other math teacher classes during the first semester. This was double the load and she never once let it effect her ability or spirits. She’s a perfect nominee.”

Keep on keeping on, Mrs. Quarles, you are doing an excellent job and service and would certainly make teachers across the country proud.