US History teacher and FHC graduate Laura Stiles has been teaching at FHC for 25 years, but before she was a teacher, she almost played in the Olympics.
Stiles started out as the goalie for the boys’ team at FHC. Then, once she graduated, she played hockey for the University of New Hampshire. After winning two national titles for a team, her coach was asked to coach the first-ever women’s national team.
“[Because] we won the national title two out of the four years, a whole bunch of us got picked to go to the national training center,” Stiles said. “From that camp, they picked the first national women’s team, and I was the third goalie. I got close. That’s my dream.”
Because of the lack of women’s professional hockey back then, Stiles wasn’t able to play after college, but she decided to shift her energy from playing to coaching the game she dedicated her life to.
“When I was done playing hockey in college I was okay with being done,” Stiles said. “I didn’t feel this need to keep playing hockey, but I love the game so much and I love skating and [the] skills, so I always wanted to coach, I coached hockey for 20 years. I coached the JV hockey team here [at FHC] for nine years.
Although her career of playing hockey didn’t work out, Stiles wasn’t letting that stop her. She went to the University of New Hampshire for her undergrad and got her teaching certificate from Aquinas College. Even before she went to the University of New Hampshire for her undergrad, she knew what she wanted to do with her life.
Stiles always knew what her dream job was; she wanted to be a teacher.
“I guess I’m just one of the lucky ones,” Stiles said. “[I] always knew that [I] wanted to be a teacher. Since fourth grade, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”
She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but history wasn’t her first choice for the subject she wanted to teach. It wasn’t even her second choice.
“I wanted to be a band director,” Stiles said. “I couldn’t play college hockey and do music as a major. So, then I tried for math, but I didn’t do so well in calculus. So, my next choice was social studies.”
After college, Stiles’s first job was to teach a night government course, and after that, she just kept picking up odd jobs.
“My first year here, I was a band-aide for two hours and a lunch lady for an hour,” Stiles said. “Then, a position opened up, and it just worked out.”
Even though social studies can be a boring and repetitive topic to teach, Stiles finds new and exciting ways to make her class and interactive adventure.
From her Roaring 20s party to climbing out the window and comparing our life to inches on the football field to writing creative stories and world cafes, Stiles tries her absolute hardest to make history an exhilarating and amusing subject.
“[My favorite part of teaching is] being creative and coming up with crazy ways to teach things,” Stiles said, “and the kids.”
Stiles doesn’t just love the subject and the lessons, she also loves the people that surround her while she does what she loves.
“I love all the people I work with,” Stiles said. “[Teaching history] gets a little boring, but I think that the people and the challenges of trying to make it fun [are what drives me to keep teaching]. Every year, it’s new kids, so I get to meet new people. It keeps me going.”
Although Stiles is great at connecting and engaging high school students, she thinks she wouldn’t be great with elementary kids, though she believes she’d have the patience.
“Can you imagine me working with elementary kids?” Stiles said. “It would be a mess. It would be total, utter chaos.”
With the quirky teaching techniques that help kids remember historical facts and her ability to make anything a lesson plan, Stiles somehow manages to turn a subject about the past into a fascinating story that is easy to relate to.
“I’m not magic,” Stiles said. “I’m just a little crazy. There is a difference between magic and crazy.”