Mrs. Felton: The Splatter of Paint throughout FHC

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Karisah Martin

“When I was in middle school, I wanted to be a doctor,” Felton said, her eyes twinkling as she reminisces on the dreams she used to have as a kid. She lets out a chuckle and breaths out a sigh of relief, as if any hopes of her becoming Dr. Felton have been extinguished with that single breath.

“I wanted to be a pediatrician. My thought process was that I loved working with kids, so that obviously meant that I had to be a doctor. Then, I remembered that I hated germs.”

It all begin with her germophobic tendencies…that is what led her to teaching.

“Although kids are often sick in the classrooms, at least I don’t have to touch them,” Felton remarked, chuckling as she pointed out one of the perks of being a teacher.

Felton’s protracted list of teaching experiences can best be described as colorful; she has made her rounds from pre-teaching at Kenosha to student teaching at Rogers Lane Elementary to student-teaching at Central Middle School, which brought her to her final destination: The Forest Hills District.

After student-teaching at the middle school, everything made sense. It was as if she was the missing piece of a 120-piece puzzle that had finally found its spot safely nestled into the center; Felton finally understood Forest Hills was where she belonged. She was rather naively optimistic; she refused to interview at any other districts and instead told them “I’m Good,” when they extended a position. She knew she was the piece of the puzzle that needed to fall into place, and deemed one of the lucky ones. She was offered a job at FHC, where she could finally ‘click’ into place. Besides the district, the kids within it were what originally sold her.

“The teenagers I work with are truly amazing,” Felton stated, “ There is just so much potential…they have so much ability to actually go out and make a difference in the world. The kids I teach have so much life to live and so much to look forward to and I think the best part of teaching is when they finally have the same realization that they can go out in the world and make a difference.”

Soon after discovering her place within the district, Felton soon begin to search for her place within the world. She had a thirst for experience and traveling seemed to quench this need. Beginning with mission trips through her church, Felton began exploring the checkered blue and green planet, dabbling in different continents in order to fill the void that had been missing. One that couldn’t be filled with the countless hours she spent scouring book after book; one that couldn’t be filled through her fervor for literature, but instead by a more tangible experience.

Visiting the orange sunset sprayed upon the Marula trees of South Africa, the streets brimming with hundreds of people sprinkled upon the narrow streets of Hong Kong, the waves of the sandy shoreline in Macau, and an orphanage located in Mexico, Felton didn’t feel like a visitor despite the passport tucked away in her luggage. She felt more like she was home; traveling allowed her to immerse herself in the different cultures and the different histories buried beneath each of the continents that Felton’s feet touched.

While her traveling adventures consist of an amalgam of memories and cannot be defined by a single one, she states there are a few defining moments throughout her experiences that will be forever engraved within her memory. One involved the arduous search for an elephant and a scrupulous tour guide in South Africa.

“You would think that locating an elephant is an easy job because they’re so big, but they hide really well,” Felton said.

Getting out of the buggy and following the tour guide , she heard nothing but the authoritarian voice of the guide remarking things such as, “ Move. Move,” and “Run.Run.” Felton remembers following the voice when all of the sudden, the guide was silent and the commands stopped. He held up his hand and simply remarked, “Listen.” Felton remembers nothing but the hundreds of trees scattered around her and engulfing her and sensing that something really large was near her by the scattered sounds of moment.

All of a sudden, the tour guide yells out “Run!” And the people on the tour emerge into a full-fledged sprint to the buggy. From Felton’s buggy, not ten seconds later, they see the source of the movement. Their eyes feast upon this elephant with her baby that comes barrelling out of the trees and trudging along the road.

“All I remember thinking is ‘My gosh, that’s one big elephant!” Felton chuckled, recalling the experience.

Felton has taken all of the experiences, including that which included her running from an elephant, and tried to share them with each of her students in an attempt to break Forest Hills of the bubble stereotype.

“It’s hard because I do think a lot of our students travel, but they travel to resorts,” Felton said.” It’s weird because they don’t necessarily immerse themselves into the culture. I think in a way we are in a bubble. I mean if you look at us and then at downtown Grand Rapids, there is a major difference. If we don’t make connections with people outside our little community, then as much as I hate to say it, we are bubbled.”

Erika Iwatsu, a senior involved with the GLI club which Felton advises, is aware of the diversity that Felton brings to the school and acknowledges its impact on culture within the walls of FHC as a whole.

“She’s like a splatter of paint,” Iwatsu remarks in terms of Felton. “You know, she just came into the school and livened it up. She has so many amazing stories to tell about the world and all of her experiences just helped make this school a little more colorful.”