The Emotional Impact of a Teacher: Julie Hunt Is Celebrated on the Humans of New York Instagram Page

Kayleigh Emberton and Kate Geiger

The threshold of Julie Hunt’s classroom separates a home from a hallway. Cozy fragrances dance around the room and dimly lit candles sit on the tabletops. Each day, students enter the class with a smile and a sense of comfort. Discussions about literature and sensitive topics instill unity in the class when others think it may do just the opposite. Mrs. Hunt has a way of making every student feel comfortable in her classroom. Mrs. Hunt is a teacher like no other, her passion for teaching makes AP Literature more than just another difficult class. It is a place where students can engage and invest in their own learning.

Mrs. Hunt is an English teacher at South Forsyth but has taught in other high schools in the south. Mrs. Hunt creates a different type of learning environment. She enriches students’ minds through discussion and writing prompts. Everyone in her class has an opportunity to explain opinions and voice thoughts without being shut down. When students and teachers have a special bond, it truly allows for more opportunities for growth in and out of the classroom. This is exactly what happened with South Forsyth 2015 graduate Chase Nielson. Humans of New York featured Mrs. Hunt within an article about the student-teacher relationship between Mrs. Hunt and Chase Nielson. Chase participated in all kinds of extracurricular activities and was an ‘All As’ student. However, she kept a side hidden of herself hidden from her peers and family. Chase always battled with self-worth and depression but bystanders would never know.  Her parents never thought anything was wrong and her band instructor even called her ‘Smiley’. Mrs, Hunt gave a poetry assignment to Chase in British Literature and after reading the poem about drowning, Mrs. Hunt became greatly concerned. Mr. Hunt confronted Chase with genuine concern and asked her if everything was alright. Chase denied any help at first but finally broke down. She confided in Mrs. Hunt and they worked through this tough time together. Mrs. Hunt requested Chase’s permission to send her parents an email and she started to get professional help. 

Mrs. Hunt’s class is a wonderful example of balance. She manages to balance student’s opinions and feelings with the curriculum that is required by the state.

“We were assigned plenty of papers and assignments, but I never felt that Mrs. Hunt would put us down. It was an open and safe environment,” Chase Nielson reminisced. 

When students see Mrs. Hunt in the hallway, they greet her with enthusiasm and respect. She is understanding and never lets someone’s grades define their intelligence or ability to learn. No one’s passions are too far-fetched in her classroom. She works with students to explore different points of view and different realities. 

Chase explained how Mrs. Hunt helped her grow as a person, “Mrs. Hunt took us multiple steps farther and made sure that we were also learning about ourselves. We were reflecting on ourselves and we were talking about our passions. That’s what made her different; she saw us as people and as individuals.” 

What sets Mrs. Hunt apart is her ability to understand and connect on a deeper level with each student she has. Mrs. Hunt explains how her teaching style has developed after the experience: “I also have learned that it is okay to be vulnerable with students. I share with them my own disappointments and mistakes. I do my best to have a classroom culture where students can share and ask questions without fear of judgment.”

Even in the class, Mrs. Hunt does not expect students to work for an hour straight; she loves to see the students stimulated and talking to each other. It truly enriches the learning environment and creates a safe place for high schoolers. Mrs. Hunt is always looking for ways to learn about her students each year before anything. Every year, the first assignment in class is an introduction letter. Students are given a list of many questions that should be answered in a letter format. Mrs. Hunt uses these letters to better understand each student she teaches.

She is there to share her intense passion for literature. She is authentic and genuine, something that more teenagers need.

— Chase Nielson

“​I try to connect with all of my students. At the beginning of the year, I have students write letters of introduction to me, ” Mrs. Hunt explains. “I read their letters multiple times as I am learning their faces and their names; this enables me to begin making connections and to know their passions, strengths, fears, and hopes.” 

After graduating in 2015, Chase went to Georgia State and double majored in English and Philosophy. Chase is now furthering her career at Kennesaw. She started student teaching at Forsyth Central High School with hopes to teach high school and help students the way Mrs. Hunt helped her, “I love the older students like 12th graders, but I’ve also had a lot of fun teaching 9th graders. I think every grade has its strengths and challenges.”

She experienced many hardships in her mental state. After admitting her struggles to her friends, family, and herself, Chase was able to turn her life around and become a successful adult.