Even though she has taught for only four years, Amber Mann has taken on several duties at Eastside High School other than simply teaching advanced and Quest freshman English.
Mann said she knew she wanted to be a teacher while attending elementary school in Social Circle but didn't know what she wanted to teach until her senior year in high school.
Her senior class at Social Circle High successfully petitioned the school board for an Advanced Placement English class - the first in the district. Mann loved the teacher and decided she wanted to do the same in her career.
"She made the class so appealing in the way she read and discussed literature," Mann said.
Mann tries to engage students in literature with interesting projects, lots of choices and a beaming smile.
During the unit about novels, Mann's class reads "Night" by Elie Wiesel. Because the book depicts life in a Nazi concentration camp, Mann has her students work in groups to create a detailed Power Point presentation about a branch of the Holocaust which they choose.
At the end of the mythology unit, Mann has students write and perform reality-show-type skits in her project called "Made: Who wants to be an Olympian."
"They like it because it seems like they're playing," Mann said, "but really they show me what they learned."
Students in Mann's class learn a variety of vocabulary and literary terms while exploring the different genres. To encourage students to study the words and be able to use them in their own writing, Mann invented the game of Trashketball.
If a student correctly identifies a term, they shoot a wad of paper into a waste basket. If the student makes the basket from the hallway, they can bring in a T-shirt or jersey and have it retired.
The graphic arts teacher at Eastside prints the students' last names and numbers they choose on the jersey before Mann hangs them on the wall.
She recently retired her jersey.
Mann said although her students are gifted, she said they are still teenagers and require motivation from time to time.
"It's always a struggle to make a student see why it's important to learn the things you are teaching them," Mann said, "especially in the ninth grade."
To motivate students to go above and beyond what they are required to do or turn in work early, she created a "Who's the Mann" bulletin board in her classroom. Every month she tries to profile a student who went the extra mile on an assignment.
"I'm pretty cheesy," Mann said.
Planning for her English classes is not Mann's sole responsibility at Eastside. She is also the school facilitator for the district's new NovaNet credit recovery program.
"Our first priority is seniors who are in danger of not graduating on time," Mann said.
As of the end of February, 21 full credits and six half credits had been earned.
Because of Mann's highly organized system of recording attendance, grades and parental consent forms, she was asked to present at Pearson's "Georgia Best Practices Conference" in Atlanta.
Mann also serves as Eastside's staff development coordinator and the school's Relay for Life Captain.
She said she does all she does for the benefit of the students.
Even though she didn't discover her affection for poetry until college, when she realized it was OK to have a differing opinion about intended meaning, she hopes discussions in her classroom will lead to a lifetime love of literature whether it be short stories or theater.
"My favorite thing is to see the student's really get into what we're reading," Mann said. "That's what I like; looking at things in a whole bunch of different ways and even if they don't like it - being passionate enough to disagree with it."