By Derrick Miller
When Haley Wilson entered the AmeriCorps program at 19, she was required to get 20 hours of volunteer time per year because of a Plus Scholar program. Over the course of the subsequent two years, she ended with 1,800 hours.
Wilson’s time in AmeriCorps put her into the Duncan School District, which fed into her desire to become a teacher. The two years spent in the organization coincided with her English degree at Cameron University in Lawton.
“For the most part, I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Wilson said. “I enjoy seeing the success of others.”
Her first professional teaching job was an English position at Duncan High School, the same school she graduated from in 2004. She spent three years at DHS before moving to Duncan Middle School and has recently started teaching English and journalism 10 miles north of Duncan in Marlow.
Even though she was born and raised in Duncan, Wilson is excited about the opportunity to teach in Marlow. She took over the position vacated by Sharon Bullard. Wilson said she’s met Bullard once, but has heard many great things about her.
“It doesn’t matter what school you’re at,” she said. “The goal is the same: the success of students.”
That goal was instilled in Wilson when she entered into the AmeriCorps program when she was in her late teens. She stayed in the organization her early 20s and felt the experience set her up for her teaching career. She first got involved because Tim Whaley, who was a member of Youth Services of Stephens County.
She said she sought Whaley out to ask for volunteer opportunities because of the requirements through the Plus Scholar program. What she found was much more meaningful to her.
AmeriCorps is an organization that focuses on at-risk students in the Stephens County community. Those involved in the program work with, not only the pubic school system, but also the Gabriel’s House, which is an after-school program for Duncan’s elementary students, and host fundraisers for Youth Services.
“It made you gain a lot of passion,” Wilson said. “It makes you gain a lot of insight into things you may not have known about. It was fun. It was fun seeing the students improve.
“My fondest memories are seeing those students in the present. They’re excited to tell they they’ve graduated, have careers, have families. It really changed my life, gave me focus.”
Between stints at DMS and Marlow High, Wilson took one year off to spend time with her daughter Greenley, who is now 3. She described this as the best decisions she has made because the opportunity provided her with a new type of bonding with her daughter.
After all, family is one of the most important things in her life.
“My life revolves around my family, my students and tennis,” Wilson said.
Regardless of how hectic Wilson may find her life at times, she is finding a balance that could make her 19-year-old self jealous.