Originally created 03/03/03

Teacher's love of English runs beyond classroom



AIKEN - It's deadline day, and Amelia Ligon is hovering over her students.

The sponsor of The Hornet Herald, the newspaper at Aiken High School, has her students for about an hour today - one last whirlwind of copy-editing, headline writing and occasional picture-taking.

The school has had a newspaper for six years, but a journalism class has been offered for only three. The newspaper staff has grown from four in the first year to 26 this year.

The paper - about 18 pages, with ads sold by the students - is distributed six times a year.

Even with the luxury of spending classtime on the paper, the staff usually has only one computer and printer, items bought from money it raised.

At Aiken High School, all teachers are required to sponsor an extracurricular activity. Mrs. Ligon, 53, who has never worked in journalism, began overseeing extracurricular writing activities such as the newspaper, literary magazine and yearbook because it was understood that is what a language arts teacher sponsors.

Mrs. Ligon sponsored the yearbook and a literary magazine during her first teaching job in Delaware and a yearbook and newspaper at her second teaching job in Texas.

She helped pupils create a newsletter at Schofield Middle School in Aiken County before moving to Aiken High.

With all that experience, her first love remains English.

"By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I wanted to teach English," she said.

That dream came from a teacher Mrs. Ligon had her sophomore year.

"I think I caught her enthusiasm, her love of language, her love of drama," Mrs. Ligon said. "I knew that was a niche I could fill."

Mrs. Ligon said she tried to pass down her love of words to her two sons. She said everyone in the family loves to read. One son majored in English in college and is now in law school. The other is majoring in engineering.

Every year, Mrs. Ligon said, she is able to teach about different authors and different styles. Her students - especially those in the advanced classes - respond well.

"I push them and challenge them, and they meet the challenge," she said.

Reaching students who are uninterested also is part of the love affair Mrs. Ligon has with teaching English. She tries to give them an "ear for the language" by making characters leap off the page.

"Hopefully, they'll find something that piques their interest," she said.

AMELIA LIGON

AGE: 53

POSITION: Aiken High School teacher

SUBJECTS: English, journalism

QUOTE: "By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I knew I wanted to teach English."

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.