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The online home of the Central Focus

Et tu, Mademoiselle Odle?

Rachel Blanchard
Dr. Leake and guest speaker Mrs. Odle clap for the officers as they finish their ceremony.

Mrs. Teresa Odle is retiring this school year(2023-24) after a total of 26.6 years of teaching. She has made a notebook and is collecting notes from students for after she leaves the school. One thing is for certain: FHC students, teachers, staff, and administration will miss Mrs. Odle.

The 0.6 years of teaching is when Mrs. Odle at first taught only after third hour because she drove her daughter to school. 

From introducing snazzy rhetoric for the first time to young aspiring minds to hosting student-led Shakespeare plays and conversations about “Lord of the Flies,” Mrs. Odle’s class brings out fiery passion and more likely than not rambunctious and unwavering arguments between students. She may inspire one to write to the College Board about their alleged wrong answer on an AP question. Did the kids circling Simon resemble a beast or a mouth? Mrs. Odle, however, will forever be remembered for the important values and aspects of leadership and character she instilled in her students.

“Always remember that you can do hard things. They’re gonna get to college, and they’re going to encounter difficult times, both academically, socially. And I just want them to always remember that they have the capability to overcome those hard things. I always want them to remember, you know, to hang in there and not be discouraged, because they’re not perfect. Sometimes as teenagers you think like ‘When I’m growing up, it’s all going to be easy,’ and it’s not you know, there will be personal trials, but they can always overcome those,” Mrs. Odle said.

Mrs. Odle describes herself as an acquired taste, where most students who find her too strict at the beginning of the year have grown fond of her teaching style and her personality by the end of the year. 

“I sometimes make the joke, I’m like coffee, I’m an acquired taste. So most people when they taste coffee for the first time, they don’t like it. And I kind of do think that that’s my reputation as a teacher, that I think sometimes when students first come into my room, they think I’m kind of strict. Some would even say mean at first. One student comes to mind specifically. I won’t say his name, but he even admitted that and he’s like, ‘Odle, the first couple weeks of school, I didn’t like you very much. I thought you were way too strict. But now you’re one of my favorite teachers.’ So that was a really sweet compliment, and seemed very genuine,” Mrs. Odle said. “So I think that’s probably true for a lot of kids, the reason I’m so strict about phones and other things is that I really genuinely do want the best for them. And I feel like I have so much to teach them that we just don’t have any time to waste.”

Being in her class is like being in a fluid, continuous motion. It’s a constant caring shove, like patting students on the back while pointing to the clock, encouraging students to be on task, get work done and formulate ideas, and attempt to understand concepts in a genuine way out of passion and a drive to help students learn. It’s relaxing and invigorating to be in Mrs. Odle’s class because her way of teaching is unlike any other. Junior Ryder Blaise describes how the immense workload helps prepare students for AP Language and Composition, the junior level AP ELA course, and what he will miss about Mrs. Odle.

“I think [I’ll miss] just how much she cared for each and every single one of her students and how kind she was toward them and [how she] always wanted to help them out if they were struggling in her class,” Blaise said. “She just loaded us with like a bunch of stuff we had to do. Which is all right. But it was a bit much at times. But I do believe in doing that she did prepare us for this class.”

She also inspires other teachers.

“The teachers who follow me will come to me and say, ‘I can always tell [they’re] your kids when they get to me because their explanations are so good.’ A lot of them have said very kind things about me setting a good example in terms of how to balance my work life and my home life and still be a really good wife and a really good mom. So those are always kind things to hear,” Mrs. Odle said.

To junior Manal Elgazar, Mrs. Odle was a friendly face to talk to in the hallway and a motivator pushing her to write at her best.

“I think I’m gonna miss seeing her in the hallways because she always said ‘Hi!’ and stuff and I did like her class and talking to her. She was fun to talk to,” Elgazer said. “She did make us write a lot of essays, which I felt helped a lot and she held us to a higher standard, it wasn’t like you could just write whatever you want. You have to write at college level.”

Mrs. Odle always pushes students to perform better and formulate stronger arguments while constantly developing their critical thinking skills to become more avid and consistent. This pursuit can be tiring yet full of passion and very admirable and inspiring. Mrs. Odle describes why she loves teaching her students.

“I’m getting to know so many different personalities of the students. Sometimes when I meet people in my personal life, and I tell them I’m a teacher, they’ll be like, ‘Ah, that must be terrible.’ You know, working with teenagers. I feel like it’s the opposite. I love working with teenagers and all the various personalities among them. I had a student that kind of struggled with his behavior. And he said at the end of the year, ‘You’re even nice to the bad kids.’ So at first I said, ‘I don’t think you’re a bad kid!’ But I said that’s really sweet for you to say that. I hope that’s the legacy that I’ve left is that I like all kids, you know, for different reasons,” Mrs. Odle said.

Mrs. Theresa Odle helps student Mackaylee Schulte with a homework question. (Lana Mueller)

Mrs. Odle found her love for teaching and English by constantly reading books and her enjoyment in writing. 

“I was the kid in elementary school who always had my nose in a book. Sometimes I was supposed to be working on one thing and the teacher would be like, ‘Teresa, put your book away.’ I’ve just always always loved reading. And same thing for writing. I loved school when I was a student, and so when teachers would compliment me on my writing that made me feel good about myself. So then I wanted to in turn pay that forward. And some of my teachers were some of the best influences on my life. I thought, well, maybe I can be that person,” Mrs. Odle said.

If there’s one thing Mrs. Odle looks forward to after retirement: it’s hiking. She is a grand hiker enthusiast as she even found this book called “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: St. Louis: Including Sullivan, Potosi, and Farmington,” and plans to complete all of the hikes by the end of 2024 with one of her friends. She tracked down the author and got a photo taken with her friend and the author and got the book autographed.

“Golf, pickleball. Oh I’m gonna master the art of sourdough bread baking! I love to travel and my husband does too. So we’ll probably do a lot of traveling. Part of my travel will be going to see my [three kids] and their various places, [Dallas, Chicago, and New York City]. They’ve all moved because of their careers. My husband and I are planning on taking a trip to Thailand next year so that’ll be exciting. And then we also love to snow ski. So we try to head somewhere snowy at least one or two times a year to ski,” Mrs. Odle said. “My husband and I love national parks. So two summers ago we went to Glacier National Park. And I mean, I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places in the world, but I feel like Glacier National Park was definitely the top. I mean, some of the hikes we did like a 3,000-foot elevation gain, the views when you got to the top of those glaciers were just phenomenal. And then number two would probably be Iceland. We went to Iceland and did some amazing hiking there too. If you get the chance to go you definitely need to go because of the gorgeous sunsets and sunrises, waterfalls, and geysers.”

One interesting fact about Mrs. Odle is that she originally started her teaching career with economics and accounting because she is certified in both Business and English. She taught Accounting and Applied Economics at Francis Howell High School with frequent sub and AP proctor Mr. Meyers. Also, Mrs. Odle loves receiving emails from her past students. She describes leaving her students as a bittersweet moment, and especially she is sad to leave her fellow teachers. 

“Although I am looking forward to having a little bit more free time, there’s also a sad element to it. I’ve been in this building alone, for like, 18 years. So that’s a long time. Friendships like Miss Wille and I, we’ve been in the same PLC for like, 16 years. She used to be a Special Education teacher, but now she’s an ELA teacher. That’s a long time of, you know, working together and collaborating. And the same thing, Miss Hopkins, she and I’ve been in a PLC together for like 15 years. And so we had a meeting, and she kind of started to cry. ‘I can’t believe you’re not going to be here next year.’ That was really emotional for me. Not that you won’t ever see those people again, but it’ll be different to not be here,” Mrs. Odle said. 

The ELA teachers set up a retirement party and gave Mrs. Odle a bracelet with the coordinates for RM 118 on it. Also, Mrs. Odle gave her magical, majestic salmon and a white colored conch shell she found like the one from “The Lord of the Flies” to Ms. Fay. 

“And I loved that gift so much. It was so sweet, because I’ve been here a long time, you know. And then also my TA Macy Perks. She’s been starting to slowly take my stuff down off the walls. Someone said take pictures of your classroom before you start taking it down. Because you’ve been in here for a while. So I did take pictures. But as things start to come down, you know, it’s not colorful anymore. Still a little sad. And then I’ve been bequeathing objects to teachers. So like my ginormous conch shell from Lord of the Flies, I gave that to Ms. Fay,” Mrs. Odle said. “Long live ‘The Lord of the Flies.’” 

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