Rice shares approach to teaching


Photo by Emma Song

Teacher Christina Rice works at her desk in the social studies department.

Students at desks in small groups look to the other side of the classroom, where their teacher stands confidently, walking them through a slideshow on the boxlight. That person, AP NSL teacher Christy Rice, has been working at this school for 13 years and is well-respected among students. Students consider Rice a friendly and helpful teacher. “She’s very nice. I like her teaching style,” sophomore Anna Zhang said.

Students say that they find her to be approachable and relatable as well. “She’s very friendly and is one of the teachers that I feel like I could have a friendly conversation with. She feels more like a peer than a teacher,” freshman Leyla Danielian said.

Rice, however, said that she is the one who relates to the students. “I remember what it’s like being in their shoes,” she said. “I took honors NSL in high school, and it was not fun. Wootton is more intense than my high school was. You all have higher expectations and societal pressures.”

Rice’s teaching career started in high school when she did an education internship. “I really just signed up as a way to get out of the building and see my middle school teachers again, but it wasn’t until that internship that I saw the other side of the classroom and realized I really enjoyed what I was doing,” she said.

What led to her choosing to teach NSL specifically was 9/11. “I remember when 9/11 happened when I was in 11th grade, and it really impacted me a lot. It really increased my interest in current events and global issues, and from there, I realized that what I’m passionate about is history and government and how we see that in our everyday lives,” she said.

Rice started working here in 2009, when teaching positions were limited. “Wootton had a part-time position open and it was US history, which made me really excited,” she said. For two years, Rice graded AP exams for NSL. “It was a brutal process of scoring essays all day long for an entire week, but I am now so much more knowledgeable about what the College Board expects. The professional learning from that was very valuable,” she said.

Students say that Rice’s experience, combined with her teaching style, helps them feel more confident about the NSL AP exam. “She’s very clear with her teaching and I know I’ll be prepared for the exam because it isn’t a mystery what’s going to be on it,” Danielian said.

Rice said that her role as an NSL teacher goes beyond just teaching course material. “I view the content second. I think the most important part in my work with students is teaching what we call the ‘hidden curriculum’ – life skills such as how you interact with other people andhow you manage your time,” she said.

Rice’s passion for government and teaching is what makes her a well-respected teacher – and what makes her students willing to learn from her.