Pandemic perseverance

First year teacher becomes standout staff member during the pandemic


Grace Elder

Science teacher Rachel Frantz helps students complete their project. She often organizes unorthodox project for her students.

Teaching has always been in Rachel Frantz’s nature. Whether it was working with those younger than her, living in a house with three younger brothers or helping kids with swim lessons growing up, she always lent a helping hand to those who needed it.

“I love walking with somebody to understand new things,” Frantz said. “Just seeing that ‘Aha!’ moment when things click is very rewarding for me.”

Frantz’s passion for teaching led her to pursue a career in education in the middle of a pandemic. However, despite the world’s struggles, she persevered and has made an impact on the school.

Even though 2020 was an eventful year, the choice to start teaching during a pandemic was not a difficult decision for her to make.

“Why wait?” Frantz said.

She thought that 2021 was the best time to start teaching because everyone was a new teacher now, even the people who had been teaching for 30 years. No one knew what to do.

Frantz found her place at SHS through UIndy. The university had her fill out a personality survey and matched her with biology teacher and science department co-chair Amanda Schnepp SHS, and she was very grateful.

“Mentoring her never felt like I was telling her what to do,” Schnepp said. “Instead, we worked through challenges together as equals, as colleagues.”

After her experience of student teaching with Schnepp, she ended up staying at SHS as a teacher in Integrated Chemistry & Physics and Honors Biology.

“I really love the culture here,” Frantz said. “When they offered me a job here, I felt very at home.”

It was clear that the school wanted her as the job interview consisted of a 15 minute conversation between administration and Frantz.

Frantz stood out.

“She’s probably the best student teacher I’ve ever seen,” said principal Brian Knight.

She has continued to amaze SHS staff during her first semester of teaching. 

Frantz’s style is unique as she branches out from the typical teaching style and truly applies her curriculum to the real world.

“She’s had (her students) put together lessons that they can go teach the preschool kids… about measurement,” Knight said. “Those types of things I think set her apart from others of looking at not just what I do in my classroom with curriculum, but how does that curriculum connect to broader perspectives?”

She has loved incorporating engaging activities into her students’ learning.

From getting students to create their own experiments with preschoolers, starting project based learning units involving blood drives to a “Clay Chemistry” unit where students interact and understand what is going on with something familiar, she brings something new.

“I really believe that all learning needs to have application,” Frantz said. “Whatever we are learning in class can be applied to life outside of school as well. I believe it is my job as a teacher to guide students into seeing those opportunities for application.”

Another trait of Frantz that Knight noticed was that she connects with students and performs very well, but she is always looking for feedback and ways to grow. As she starts on the latter part of her first year of teaching, growth is definelty a priority. 

“My biggest goal is just to build relationships with the students here,” Frantz said. “Southport students are awesome and it’s just nice to get to know new people.”

Along with student-teacher connections, she hopes to really help kids know the material and make sure they are actually learning and comprehending.

She wants feedback and she wants to get better, and that is how she makes an impact.

“She’s been an absolutely fantastic hire for us,” Knight said.