Have a Heart

Lindsey Faust, Spotlight Editor

When I poked my head into English teacher Kari Haile’s classroom and meekly announced my presence, the woman whose back had been to me spun jovially around and, with the largest of smiles on her bright face, exclaimed an energetic greeting and hurried to firmly shake my hand.

After we settled into two front-row desks with playing cards used for group activities taped to the corners, I asked if it was alright for me to record our discussion on my iPhone. She enthusiastically told me she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I was in journalism school, that would’ve been amazing,” Mrs. Haile said. “You can take pictures and notes on that, and when I graduated, we still had darkrooms and film. It’s amazing.”

Although she has since pursued a fruitful teaching career – having taught journalism, art, reading, social studies, science, theatre arts, speech and English in middle and high schools throughout Texas – Mrs. Haile originally had other plans for her career path, majoring in public relations at Texas Woman’s University.

“That’s really what I wanted to do, handle the PR issues that come up with politicians,” Mrs. Haile said. “I worked at the state level in politics, but then I realized that I wasn’t really cut out for being a wife, a mother and doing that because that’s such a demanding career… I realized I wasn’t quite cutthroat enough for that.”

Mrs. Haile’s gentle and caring personality helped to steer her away from her initial career path, but her placid demeanor wasn’t the only factor that sent her toward education.

“When I graduated, it was a time when the Texas economy went really bad,” Mrs. Haile said. “So I went back and got my teaching certification and then found out that’s what I really loved.”

When a person is passionate about what they invest their time in, her contentment radiates from her. It is obvious that Mrs. Haile’s first priority is the full and enjoyable enrichment of her students.

“[The most important thing I keep in mind is] to teach my students the way I’d want my children to be taught. Everyone in here is somebody’s child, and we all want the best for our own children, so I try to keep that in mind,” Mrs. Haile said. “A seminar I went to one time said ‘You can’t afford to have a bad year’ because kids only have one shot at their sophomore year or their junior year, and if you ruin it for them, you get to teach  sophomore English again the next year but there’s no do-overs for them.”

When asked how her current career compares to her original plan to work in public relations, Mrs. Haile thought for a moment before speaking.

“I think my personality type is that I want to make a difference, and when I was young and a little bit naïve I thought politics would be a great way to make a difference.”

Mrs. Haile smiled as she placed a hand over her heart.

“But y’know, this is so much more personal,” she said. “You can see results and you can still have a heart.”