Have you ever had a teacher read your mind? That is what it feels like to sit in Mrs. Anderson-Little’s Psychology class. Recently announced as the 2023 Senior Teacher of the Year, Anderson-Little guides students through the world of Psychology and Women’s Studies. It comes as no shock to any student that Anderson-Little was chosen since she also believes she has “great relationships with a lot of my students.”
Anderson-Little is a graduate of Centennial High School in Ellicott City and later received a degree in Secondary Education from Millersville University in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. However, she did not always want to be a teacher. When she graduated from Centennial, she had every intention of majoring in history, but her plans changed. After working as a para-educator in Howard County summer school, she realized that she could be a teacher to use her love of history. She has now been teaching for nine years, all of which have been spent here at Oakland Mills.
When she came to OM, she started out teaching Government and United States History. A few years ago, she made the switch to teaching Psychology and Women’s Studies. Anderson-Little prefers Psychology over History classes, as the curriculum is not as restricting and allows her to embrace her own creativity. She loved taking Psychology in high school and has always gravitated toward non-fiction books on human behavior, so teaching the class fits her very well. In addition, she will be teaching a new course next school year: LGBT Studies. The course will be offered at four HCPSS high schools next year, Oakland Mills being one of them. Anderson-Little is excited to teach the course because “it will be great to give an alternate perspective of mainstream historical experiences.”
Not only does she love teaching Psychology, she also loves teaching here at OM. Despite being a Centennial alum, Anderson-Little stated, “I love the culture of Oakland Mills, I never got this taste of unity that I have here at Oakland Mills.” Luckily, for our cOMmunity, she plans on staying and does not see herself transferring anywhere else.
Despite adoring the OM community, teaching can come with some challenges. When asked what the hardest part of teaching is, Anderson-Little replied, “Knowing which battles to fight, some things are worth your time, some things are not.” She also said that it is difficult to balance the expectations and demands of groups within the school: ie. coworkers, students, administration, and parents, but also herself. Like most, she feels that “I’m my own biggest critic sometimes.”
She counteracted the negatives by stating what the best part of her job is: “the relationships… kids coming back to see you.” Teachers spend hours a day with students and often form deep connections with them. When describing this, she said, “We’re doing more than just teaching.” Those relationships are likely what got her voted OM’s Senior Teacher of the Year. Being a teacher also gave her the opportunity to coach volleyball for a few years. She was able to bond with the girls on the team and watch them develop as athletes. Her favorite memory of coaching is when the team beat Glenelg High School because of, “the looks on their faces.” Anderson-Little obviously values her student relationships and tries very hard to understand those she leads. When she is in the classroom, she likes to keep in mind “the different perspectives and backgrounds that my students come to class with.” She said that understanding her students allows her to be true to herself as well.
At OM, Anderson-Little loves pep rallies. The energy and crowd spirit really inspires her. She said that when she was at Centennial, her pep rallies were never like OM’s and that our pep rallies are a lot of fun. In terms of her favorite senior activity she said, “I freaking love prom,” and that she really enjoys seeing everyone dress up. She also enjoys co-coordinating graduation with Ms. Moore. She stated that since she has been here, she has always gotten along with Moore. They first coordinated graduation together in 2020, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was held virtually. Last year was the first live graduation she was able to attend since she was pregnant with her first child in 2021. She discussed how rewarding it was to be there and see everyone’s hard work pay off. When asked if she could tell us anything about graduation, she said, “I can’t give you any spoilers.”
In terms of the future for Anderson-Little, she has a lot ahead. This summer, she will have a baby girl, whose name she is gatekeeping at the moment (much to her Psychology class’s dismay). Despite a wonderful suggestion, she did say that her daughter would not be named Oakley after Oakland Mills.
As you can see, it is no shock that Anderson-Little was voted the 2023 Senior Teacher of the Year. She is full of positivity and humor. She loves what she does and who she is surrounded by. Anderson-Little is a major part of our cOMmunity and plans to keep it that way. Next time you see Mrs. Anderson-Little, be sure to congratulate her!