Entering her sixth year here at Eagle Rock, art teacher Ms. Maddox has quickly become one of the most beloved staff members on campus. Although her focus as a teacher is painting, it is more important for Maddox to make each student feel seen and important. In our interview, she mentioned her first class after coming to America from South Korea - her teacher had no idea what to do with “this girl who didn’t speak English…so [she] put me in the corner with a box of crayons and white paper…and told me to draw”. This experience of being forgotten about and written off as someone who didn’t deserve to learn alongside her classmates deeply impacted Maddox. She vowed that as a teacher, her “main focus [is to] make my students know that they’re important” and to never make another person feel the way she did.
This idea that every student just wants to be understood and heard has made Ms. Maddox the amazing teacher that she is - she makes a genuine effort to get to know each kid she comes across, whether or not they are a student in her painting classes. She is so mindful of the effect she has on her students, and she makes sure to build connections with every kid so they don’t feel anything close to what Maddox did as a child.
Ms. Maddox’s first teaching experience was almost 20 years ago, at South East High School. When she went to interview for a job in the art department, Maddox was instead assigned to an English class for a few years before she was given the job she had asked for. Although she said that being an English teacher was not what she had hoped, she looks back on it fondly because of the connections that she was able to build with all of her students. After five years at the high school, Maddox moved on to UCLA for nine years before finally coming to Eagle Rock.
Although teaching is a huge part of Maddox’s life and she adores her job, she strives to keep her work and home life separate: “I have…separate lives. I have a life as a teacher, and then a life as a mom and a wife. When I go home, I try to focus all my attention on my family and myself.” Because she tries to put away all thoughts of school and teaching when she leaves campus, Ms. Maddox is an extremely attentive and loving mother and wife and says that she strives to take care of herself as well. She does this by going on long runs every weekend, tending to her garden, and working on art projects that she is passionate about, like the one shown at right. Maddox said that she loves to blend real and abstract elements in her piece because “the world is like that…[it] is not all perfect…and sometimes the unpleasantness can also be beautiful”.
Within our barely ten-minute interview, I felt as though Ms. Maddox and I had formed a genuine connection, and I know that her classroom will always be a safe space for me or any other students who need it. Her passion for art, family, and teaching makes her the wonderful teacher and person that she is, and it will always be a pleasure to cross paths with her. Thank you, Ms. Maddox, for making ERHS a brighter place.