‘He’s just a great kid’

Matthew Strother

February 6, 2014

The bond between Troup County’s winning STAR student and STAR teacher actually predates their time as teacher and student.

LaGrange Academy senior Evan Alexander Genova was selected as Troup County’s STAR student on Wednesday with his chosen STAR teacher, Janice Ingram. He is the son of Dr. Kenneth and Anna Marie Genova.

Ingram said she’s been friends with the Genovas since they moved to LaGrange. In fact, Ingram also was STAR teacher to the 2012 countywide STAR student winner, Kyle Genova, Evan Genova’s older brother. However, she’s been chosen as the school’s STAR teacher more than twice.

“It’s not surprising at all that she’s been selected for this honor seven times,” Evan Genova said of Ingram in his speech to the LaGrange Rotary Club on Wednesday. “She is the most amazing teacher you will ever meet – ever. She genuinely cares about everyone.”

For those that come in to her class with a willingness to learn, they can do so many things with her teaching influence, he said. For Genova, it began when he was in third grade and she brought his class in to watch her high school freshman biology class dissect sharks.

Before he even had her as a teacher, Genova named her as his favorite teacher in a computer class. Although Ingram teaches the high school-level courses, she often involves the younger children with her classes, so she already had made an impact on him before he reached high school.

“That’s the kind of impact she as. You go to LaGrange Academy, you always hear about Mrs. Ingram. You’re waiting for the moment when you can finally take her class,” he said, looking to Ingram. “All the stories – they don’t even do you justice.”

Genova said the joy Ingram shows for teaching is palpable and sticks with her students. He said she is always willing to give her time and energy, even on Saturdays, to help students and thanked her for being “the best teacher I could ever have.”

Ingram said Genova is a quick learner.

“He just absorbs,” she said. “He quickly figures out what he’s going to do to learn materials. … He’s always willing to rise to any challenge.”

She added that he selflessly helps out other students. She said he is naturally gifted, but never shows any hint of being condescending.

“He’s just a great kid,” she said. “He’ll do well.”

She described Genova as very versatile, with not only a knack for science, but doing well in all academic subjects, performing in plays and competing in sports. She also complimented Genova’s seemingly constant upbeat attitude, remarking that she’s never seen him upset.

“I love my kids – I call them my kids – and Evan’s very bright,” Ingram said. “At LaGrange Academy, one of the ideas I really like to embrace is making science fun for all the ages.”

Ingram said her honor society students, which Genova is one of, do science experiments with the younger students. It’s something she encourages that helps spread her lessons beyond the high school level. She also tasks students with making creative models or projects to help them learn, like creating DNA sequence models or sewing character-based moles associated with different elements of the periodic table.

She also strives to reach beyond simple science experiments and lessons, and delves into the practical understanding of science from everyday perspectives. For example, talking about high cholesterol and what that means to a person, or looking at bread mold, a common household occurrence, under a microscope. It gives students an understanding on something they may likely encounter in everyday conversation, she said.

“It’s not like it’s just in the classroom, it’s part of a life experience,” Ingram said. “It’s about being hands on. It’s not about open the book, turn the page and do the work sheets. That’s about as far from the way I teach as anything.”

Genova said he was excited to be named STAR student, but his real goal was to break the 2200 score on the SAT, which he achieved, beating his older brother’s score. He also was relieved to be accepted to Cornell University, his parents’ alma mater, which his brother also attends.

Genova plans to go into pre-medical at Cornell, eventually going into psychology, following in his father’s footsteps as a psychiatrist.