Teacher Feature: Jon Hawa, Grant Middle School
Published on 5/10/17
District News Academics Grant Middle School
This is Jon Hawa’s fourth year at Grant Middle School, where he teaches English Language Arts. But his passion for helping his students improve– and his school— runs deep. In addition to teaching 7th and 8th graders about fiction, theme, character and the like, he also serves on the school leadership team, as a 7/8 grade team leader, a SyraFuse Fellow and he even runs the Building Men program at the school.
Perhaps even more impressive: in his five years of teaching, Mr. Hawa has only once taken a sick day.
“I’m showing up for these guys,” Mr. Hawa said of his students. “I believe that they deserve the education that I can provide. If I’m out sick, a substitute just can’t provide that same consistency.”
Mr. Hawa said he recognizes the impact that he can make by being an active and constant presence in the classroom.
“I chose the SCSD because I want to help as many students as possible,” he explained. “Our students need to know that we have their back and we want them to succeed. They need guidance and support. I’m here to make sure I’m giving them the tools they need to succeed.”
To provide students with those learning tools, Mr. Hawa said he sets high expectations and encourages students to meet – or surpass—them. And work aside, Mr. Hawa stresses the importance of valuing the whole student – not just grades or classroom performance.
“I spend a lot of time trying to build relationships with my students,” he said. “I don’t like to send my kids out of the room—I’d rather have a conversation with them about what is influencing their behavior. I always tell them: when you’re ready to talk, I’m here to listen. The best thing for me is when a student who’s been having trouble walks by in the morning and tells me, ‘Mr. Hawa, I’m going to do well today.’”
Hawa said the values promoted in the Building Men program are ideas that he promotes to all students, even lining his classroom walls with posters encouraging forgiveness, sincerity, truthfulness, gratefulness and more.
“They know I’m a motivator and I really do care about them. They know I’m never going to give up on them,” Mr. Hawa said. “And it’s really a team effort. We have a great team of staff here at Grant, and our administration is so supportive. Our building is moving in the right direction because Principal Odom has put the right people in place to help make it happen. Our students know that we care for them, and that’s why their performance is improving. We’re all in together at Grant… we’re all there for each other.”
Thank you, Mr. Hawa, for all you do!