Teacher Bryant Habetz: ‘We don’t need memorizers, we need thinkers and doers’

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 22, 2022

By Emily Burleigh

American Press

Ragley native Bryant Habetz, 35, took his interest in history and turned it into a fulfilling career in education. For the last 14 years, he has dedicated his time to educating local youth and furthering his career.

Habetz first earned his Bachelor’s in History with a concentration in Secondary Education from LSU in 2008. He started teaching junior high math at South Beauregard soon after. During this time, he also taught physical science, Louisiana history, U.S. history, civics and free enterprise and English 4, in addition to teaching courses at McNeese State University and Upper Iowa University.

Two years ago, he moved over to DeQuincy High school, where he now teaches advanced placement human geography, U.S. history and history 101 and 102.

History has been an area of interest for Habetz since childhood. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep interest and fondness of history and its effects on modern life,” he said. He was inspired to make the decision to turn that love of history into a teaching career through his own teachers. “I had some excellent teachers in high school that made a massive impact on me.”

He continued by recalling his high school math teacher, Carolyn Mayeaux. “I didn’t much care for math, but her compassion, consistency and effectiveness in the classroom guided me in my decision to teach.”

Habetz enjoys teaching his students about the connection between past and present. “I enjoy helping kids make connections between themselves and the people of the past,” he explained. “When the material ‘clicks’ for the students and they really get it, it’s extremely satisfying to see the change in their demeanor.”

He finds that the most important things that you can teach your students are life skills. “I believe that the subject matters we all teach are important, but it isn’t the be all end all. It doesn’t matter if my students know who Samuel Gompers or Cornelius Vanderfilt are in 10 or 20 years,” he said. “What matters is that they know how to empathize, use reason and evidence to support their opinions and extract information in a variety of ways.”

For Habetz, building skills in young people is imperative. “We don’t need memorizers, we need thinkers and doers.”

These “thinkers and doers” are the future of our community. For this reason, Habetz finds that a proper education is one of the most important things a person can experience. “The community benefits from quality education because a great many of these students will themselves return to be active members in their communities, participating in community events, running businesses and helping others,” he said.

He continued by explaining that communities have a responsibility to make the education as thorough as possible to ensure its future success. “When communities are active participants in school events, the schools benefit as well. Education and community should work together in a mutually beneficial form of symbiosis in which everyone can profit.”

His students, in return for his work, gift him youth. “My students help to keep me young at heart,” he stated. “You have to stay young at heart in order to meet these kids where they live, and to try to get them to appreciate things about this world that may not have anything directly to do with them.”

Current teachers should practice patience, Habetz said. “It’s easy for us veterans to forget that new things hit kids differently,” he explained. “Stay patient and try to keep things fresh.”

New teachers, according to Habetz, need to understand the importance of consistency. “Without it, everything we work for in the classroom will be an uphill battle.”