• January 20, 2020

AN APPLE FOR THE TEACHER – U.T. Middle School: Courtney Haugh - Ocean City Sentinel: News

AN APPLE FOR THE TEACHER – U.T. Middle School: Courtney Haugh

For pupils feeling the pressure, helping them find internal happiness and peace

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Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020 2:38 pm | Updated: 2:40 pm, Thu Jan 2, 2020.

PETERSBURG – Upper Township Middle School teacher Courtney Haugh wants to help her female students become comfortable with themselves. 

The language arts teacher co-organized an empowering summer camp for pre-teen girls last summer, runs the student council and coaches field hockey … in addition to teaching. 

A field hockey coaching position in college led her to education.  According to Haugh, coaching was where she felt most like herself. 

Haugh, once a fashion merchandising major in college, knew as soon as she switched her major to education she wanted to work with middle school and high school-aged students. 

She connected with the middle and high school students and she said she felt she could have the most impact on that age group. 

“Empowering females was something that was always really important to me, and I’m a very confident woman, and I always felt in that middle school age and high school age, like I had something to offer to young females in terms of inspiring them to be comfortable with themselves,” she said. 

Her teaching career began in Vineland, where she taught in a high school, and she later taught sixth grade in Somers Point. 

She has taught in Upper Township for six years. 

“Coming to Upper and teaching here, I actually felt home for the first time ever,” she said. 

Haugh teaches 90-minute classes for sixth-grade language arts. Students learn narrative writing, argumentative essays, literary analysis, and do a lot of reading. 

“I’m trying this year to have a push of reading – really things they enjoy, so not giving as many mandatory novels, but more choice novels,” she said. 

Once a month, Haugh holds Fireside Fridays, where she takes lights and arranges it to look like a fireplace in the center of the room, and students enjoy the act of reading in a relaxed atmosphere. 

She also holds five-minute guided meditation sessions on Fridays. 

“I do feel like there’s a lot of pressure on our kids today, and I’m trying to step back and focus a lot on happiness too because I feel like I can’t always have them be a successful student if they’re not themselves kind of happy and at peace,” she said. 

Haugh and her students on student council are spreading positivity throughout the middle school by raising money to have the bathrooms painted with positive quotes. 

Around Thanksgiving, student council held a powder puff football event and collected donations for Beacon Animal Rescue. 

Last summer, Haugh and a colleague ran Camp Spark, named to help students spark love for themselves and for others. 

The camp drew about 30 students, ages 10 to 13, and included different projects and several guest speakers, including an art therapist, a female county prosecutor, a life coach, and trainers who showed them how to incorporate fitness into their lives. 

Students also made necklaces out of recycled materials, built a terrarium, and learned hand lettering.  

Haugh is also involved in events with the S.O.A.R. positive reinforcement program for students.  

She was also named the 2019 Middle School Staff Member of the Year. 

She was “very, very surprised” and “very honored” to receive the distinction. 

“It meant a lot.  I love what I do,” she said.  “I feel, especially with education, you have to be able to come in and be like, could I do this for 30 years? And I 100 percent know that I could come into this building for 30 more years and do this.”

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