Students reflect on influential teachers

Paul Rapuzzi, Reporter

We’ve all seen those click-bait advertisements near the bottom of those tabloid websites; something like, “You’ll never believe what so-and-so looks like today!” After the first few gullible clicks we learn to ignore the white noise, but the interest in finding out where people from the past are today never dwindles.

The Hereford community may not have any 90’s child actors to inquire about but there are influential figures from the past for many of us to wonder about. For Hereford students, our 90’s stars are elementary school teachers, the very first bundle of BCPS employees to impact their lives.

But what is it that makes a teacher memorable to us? What makes an elementary school teacher good?

“They need to have patience,” Kendall Auffarth (’22) said. “[They should] just be someone willing to take the time out of their day to help out their kids.”

“They need to be able to deal with a lot of stress,” Colin Campbell (’20) said. “And [should] also be really caring and able to help kids in whatever way they can.”

So what elementary school teachers fulfill this requirement for Hereford students? According to a Harbinger survey, some of the most impactful elementary school teachers include the following: Steven Bass from Prettyboy Elementary, Kimberly Poffenbarger from Fifth District Elementary, Melinda Hoffman from Sparks Elementary and Jennifer Wisnom from Seventh District Elementary.

Bass has been teaching a Prettyboy for the last 23 years and is still teaching there today. Aside from teaching he’s focused on being a good husband and father for his wife and two children, Meghan and Jake.

“Mr. Bass would always try to make even the more boring subjects enjoyable and make sure that we, even as fourth graders, could understand what we were doing,” Jacob Warner (’21) said.
Hoffman has been teaching for 24 years and still teaches at Sparks. She’s spent the past few years hiking, backpacking (with the occasional mudrun) and fostering dogs and puppies until they find owners.

“She really made an effort to connect with kids and learn the tells for when they were okay or weren’t okay which made her a great teacher to learn from,” Cindy Parker (’21) said.

Poffenbarger has been teaching for 23 years and has been at Fifth District for the last 16 years. Poffenbarger has also been raising two children and has spent her years gardening, sewing and (when the weather permits) heading to the beach.


“She kept class fun and entertaining,” Aubrey Baier (’19) said. “She was like an elementary school mom [to me].”

While the truth of the matter may not be as juicy as, “This 90’s star is now 500 pounds!” it’s still a nice trip down memory lane to see what these impactful teachers are doing now. Influence is a two way straight, so how have we as students impacted these teachers?

“Most of the memorable moments would probably not be considered that remarkable by many, but they keep me going, like when a student understands something new for the first time; watching the joy on the kid’s face makes me happy,” Bass stated.