Houvouras The Great!

In this edition of The Blue and White, we visit Mrs. Houvouras. She’s your funny, no b.s, bookworm of a teacher who also happens to be the sponsor of the school newspaper. Let’s investigate the mind of Mrs.Houvouras in this special edition of The Blue and White!

How long have you been teaching at Apopka High school? 

This is either my thirteenth or fourteenth year at Apopka High. I first taught at Apopka Middle and then Wekiva for 2 years. 

Have you had any other teaching jobs before Apopka? If so, what makes Apopka so special that you’ve stuck around? 

 I love the feeling of home at Apopka. I love the feeling of community. I like teaching at a place where I recognize the students when I’m out and about in town. I like that I am teaching students who are the children of the people that I went to school with. It feels very much like coming home every day; it doesn’t feel so much like going to work.

What gravitated you towards becoming an English/Journalism teacher instead of other subject areas?

I love books. I love reading. I majored in literature in college mostly because I just wanted to read all the time. Books are my passion; I could not pick a favorite book just like I couldn’t pick a favorite child. So it was a no-brainer for me. Also, I’m really bad at math and science, so those weren’t options. And while I find history interesting, what I find most interesting is reading about it, so books are for me.

When you were in high school, what experiences have stuck with you to this day?

One of the most important things about my high school experience was being on the debate team. I think it is what put me on the path to college. My debate coach pushed me very hard academically and made me see myself as a real intellectual. I always knew I was smart, but I never really thought college-bound because my siblings never went to college, and I was the youngest. But my debate coach really showed me that’s the direction that my life should be taking me. So I appreciate that, and that’s part of the reason why I came back to teaching; it was part of his influence.

When you walked across that stage to graduate, how did you view it? As a new chapter? Inevitable sad ending?

Definitely both; I have a very close group of friends who were friends with me all through high school. So it was pretty traumatic all of us going our separate ways for colleges. We did the whole ugly cry thing at the end of graduation. We were thinking, “How is life going to go on without us being together every day?” They’re still my very best friends. They were bridesmaids at my wedding, and we get together every summer. So it was a sad ending. I was also very excited for a new beginning. I had never really been out of Apopka, so going 4 hours away from home, living on my own, having my own experiences was very exciting.

How did COVID-19 affect your teaching year of 2020? 

It was the worst teaching experience of my life. I loved my students, and part of the problem was that I really resented not getting to be with them in a classroom because they seemed so cool. They seemed so wonderful. But, they were almost all at home on the computer, and sitting at my desk staring at a computer screen was the worst.

Have you ever considered teaching at a university in the upcoming years or is Apopka your permanent residence for the foreseeable future?

Apopka is my permanent residence while I am employed. So I will be riding it out here teaching at Apopka until I retire. Then I don’t plan to work. I don’t see myself as one of those people that miss working per se. I still want to volunteer; I still want to work with young people and do something along those lines. But, I do not want to set an alarm clock and get up every morning after I retire.

Have you ever traveled outside of the country? If so, where have you traveled and what was your favorite place to visit? 

Mr. Houvouras and I have been all over Italy; we’ve been to Paris, Norway, Amsterdam, London, and Northern Ireland. I think that traveling is one of the best educations you can get. Seeing life from different people’s perspectives is so valuable.

Do you have any bucket-list items that you would like to complete over winter break?

Winter break is too short, but I have a giant list of house projects. We have a house that is in constant need of upkeep. It was built in the early ’50s. So there’s constantly things breaking. So I have a list of projects that I need to get done. It is daunting, and I don’t think two weeks will be enough time. I need Santa to bring me a handyman for Christmas.

Since you traveled to so many places, have you considered moving out of the USA for a year or so to explore a country or the world?

Absolutely. So Mr. Houvouras and I have talked about when we retire doing a couple of different things. We’ve talked about possibly, even though I said I didn’t want to work anymore, getting teaching positions through the Department of Defense and then teaching overseas on different army or navy bases so we can see different parts of the world.  I think teaching at an American school, not necessarily through the Department of Defense, would be fantastic as well. We’ve also talked about traveling all over the country. Mr. Houvouras would like to teach college Art History, so we’ve thought of going to college towns, living there for a year, letting him teach Art History, and I can volunteer at a library.