The Great Gombos

A feature on the teacher of the year, Ms. Gombos


picture by vivian yu

Teachers are a huge part of how students learn and how much information they can retain. Having a teacher that puts their all to help students learn and enjoy the class can make a difference in a student hating a subject they once loved, or falling in love with a subject they choose to pursue in college. All of these contributions deserve praise and applause and one of these teachers is Ms. Gombos, who was voted teacher of the year!


   One of the issues many students face in schools is not feeling comfortable in their classes. While Oakton had many friendly and nice students, many of them feel uncomfortable talking or chatting with each other. In school, many students see each other as classmates rather than peers and friends, this can lead to a disconnect, causing students to feel uneasy chatting with other students. To fix this, Gombos uses “introductory activities to learn names, interests, etc. at the beginning of the year. In fact, a few of my freshmen still refer to me as “Goofy Gombos” from that very first day. After the introductory activities, I try to take the time to get to know students for who we are beyond the classroom, and we talk about it in class. I’ll ask, “How was your game, last name?” or “I saw the musical—it was fantastic!” This allows students to ask about each other’s activities and interests. In addition, the units are often tied to the world beyond the texts we read.“(Gombos) With a more casual way of talking, Gombos is able to get her students to relate to her more, and in turn, they see their peers and her in a more friend-to-friend way rather than just someone from school. 

   For many students, school is not always the “funest” thing that students look forward to. Many students go to school just wanting to do well and get through tests. However many students would be shocked that their teachers used to feel almost the same way. “I was always respectful to teachers and had great attendance, but I wasn’t thrilled by the idea of school. I struggled, and I felt like I had to work a lot harder than many of my friends.” Gombos says. 


   Becoming a teacher of the year is not easy and has many challenges. In fact, in Ms. Gombos’ first year of teaching, a student asks, “‘When are you going to quit?’ as the room erupted in laughter.” Gombos was 22 and was the fifth teacher in that classroom with all the other teachers having quit before winter break. However despite the ominous question, Gombos hung in and throughout the year Gombos, “-worked hard to get those students to realize they could trust me. I was there to help them succeed. Once I built relationships, it was easier—not easy by any means but easier.” So after the stressful start to her career, she has this advice to new teachers, “You CAN’T do it all. During my first year of teaching, I used to show up to school at 6:00 AM and leave at 6:00 or 7:00 PM. I was burnt out, and I felt like I was only a step ahead of my students. That’s not sustainable. You have to prioritize. Set a small goal, and when it’s achieved, go for a walk, head to the gym, call a friend. You have to still live your life. Also, ask for help! Veteran teachers don’t want to see you fail. People want to see you succeed. Do what you can but have limits.” (Gombos)

This poll has ended.

What is the most important thing for a teacher to do?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.