January 2018 Teacher Spotlight: Mrs. Filsinger

Nicholas Nagle, Editor-in-Chief

Mrs. Filsinger is currently an AP English Literature teacher and head of the English department at Centreville High School. She has taught at CVHS, her former high school, for seven years, but has been teaching for a total of nine. During two years of her high school career, Mrs. Filsinger took Teacher Cadet (now known as Teachers for Tomorrow) in order to better prepare for college, “I loved [Teacher Cadet],” she says, “… and knew I wanted to stick with the education field.” In college, Mrs. Filsinger attended the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. After graduating from Mary Washington, she earned her Bachelors of Arts in English and also got her VA teaching license (6-12 English). Over her career, Mrs. Filsinger has experience teaching English 10 (standard, honors, and teamed), English 12 (standard and honors), and AP Literature.

Mrs. Filsinger refers to Mr. Borah, her 11th grade AP Language teacher, as her mentor. She was his teacher assistant during her senior year and continued to stay in touch with him throughout college. As an English teacher, Mrs. Filsinger loves to read, which is a major reason why she teaches the subject that she does. “I think it can take you to a million different worlds,” she said when asked about her affinity for reading. She really wants her students to want to read, whatever that may mean to them. One of Mrs. Filsinger’s favorite activities to do in the classroom are breakouts, which can be explained as a timed chain of riddles and puzzles based around the current content being learned in class – the best way to think of breakouts is as an escape room of English literature, where you can collaborate with your classmates. Specifically, she enjoys teaching southern American literature due to the motif of the characters being broken in society. The breakouts as well as flexible seating are two very unique things that can be found within her classroom. From sofas to stools to bean bag chairs, Mrs. Filsinger is the only teacher who currently offers this kind of seating in the entire school.

When asked about her ideal career, Mrs. Filsinger said, without hesitation, that teaching is “absolutely” what she wants to do. “I love being a mom and being at home, but I don’t think I could ever give up teaching or my Centreville kids for anything else,” Mrs. Filsinger said. When asked what she loves most about teaching, she said, “The students, hands down. Especially with teaching seniors, you guys are trying to figure out where you want to go and what you want to do, getting to see you find yourselves, your passions, your struggles…” With stress levels at an all time high, students often find themselves lacking motivation, so Mrs. Filsinger was asked how she motivates her students. “I try to motivate my students by connecting with them. I want them to be successful in life, not just in English class, so that means recognizing them as human beings, not just as students. To me, that means going to out to school activities when I can and getting involved with things like Class Board. (I’m the Junior class sponsor, so we’re gearing up for prom on June 2 right now!) Ultimately, I certainly hope that I’m successful. Connecting with and motivating your students is something all teachers worry about. We want our kids to do well and be okay.”

When asked about one thing she wishes all students had in common, Mrs. Filsinger said, “I wish that students would always see their other students and teachers are human beings, that people are much more than they are. Everyone is a human with a story.”And when asked about one thing she wishes all teachers had in common, Mrs. Filsinger said, “I wish we all had the time to come and see more events outside of school. Time is hard but getting to see a concert or a play…infinite time would be a nice thing.” Mrs. Filsinger was also asked about one thing she wishes students knew and understood more about teachers, and she answered, “That we’re here to help you guys. Go and talk with your teachers. We want to see you guys succeed, grow, and get better. We have bad days, and we’re human, but we will make it up to you.”

Mrs. Filsinger also mentioned some changes she would like to see at Centreville High School. “I would love to see more of ways to see you guys cope with stress. Mindfulness and other things like that – meditation, coloring, etc. Ways to help people cope with stress. How you can handle it and come out even stronger.” As a senior who will soon be attending college, I asked Mrs. Filsinger if she had any advice for those graduating this year. “Find your fit. You might have a dream, but if it doesn’t feel like the right fit, find your friends, classes, and professors that will be best for you. It’s okay to change your mind.” After college, I aspire to graduate with a degree in English Education, and I asked Mrs. Filsinger if she had any advice for future teachers. “You have to be willing to change – the classes you teach, the schools, the students you teach. Education is constantly changing. Surround yourself with positive people. Be willing to adapt to change.” Centreville High School is filled with many teachers – all with different backgrounds, personalities, and stories – what truly sets her apart from other teachers in our school is her experience at Centreville High School as a student. “I’m not the only one, but being a Centreville graduate gives me a unique perspective with students. I know you guys will survive. I know it because I’ve done it.” These are deeply inspiring words from someone who knows that, even though high school may seem like a tall mountain to climb, we will all successfully make it to the top and graduate.

Mrs. Filsinger is one of the best English teachers I have ever had. I high recommend to all underclassmen who dare challenge themselves to take AP Literature during their senior year. You will not regret it. And I have heard nothing but good words about the other AP English Lit teachers. I have learned a lot from Mrs. Filsinger, and I have no doubt that you will too.