NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Debbie Minchin follows her passion day in and day out in her role as New Rochelle High School's AP U.S. government teacher, and she encourages her students to do the same.
"I think my students are interesting people," said Minchin, who is marking her 25th year of teaching at the high school. "I'm interested in what they think and why they think as they do. My real passion is helping them find and nurture their current passions and maybe find passions they didn't know they had."
Minchin's passion for her students extends beyond the classroom. For example, she's involved with the school's Westchester Individual Senior Experience (WISE) program, a version of a "make your own" independent study program.
"Maybe one student wants to start a band and record music while another wants to be a vet or stockbroker," she explained. "I work with about 50 students on the development of their projects. This is a broad-based opportunity for students to take something they're interested in and figure out how to do it."
Besides her regular class load, Minchin is involved in many different aspects of the school.
"I go to football and volleyball games," she said. "I'm co-advisor of the National Honor Society and two debating societies. I take my AP kids to Washington for four days every year. This community has a lot of value to me."
Minchin believes the best teachers are those who are constantly learning themselves.
"I love to learn. That's why I became a teacher," said Minchin. "I want my students to love to learn. I want to them to be excited about learning, whether it's about a book or invention or about a political event. Learning should be enjoyable. And, I try to model that. I am auditing one of my colleague's classes - AP Psych - during my prep period. I'm learning things I'll never teach, but it's just great. I'm enthused by it."
And she consistently looks to spread that enthusiasm to students.
"I live in New Rochelle," Minchin said. "This is my community. These are my children. These are my friends' children. It was my dream job to work in New Rochelle."