Teacher Tribute: Andrew Oliver


H. Hortman

Pretending to read Dancing with Cats, Mr. Oliver shares with us a glimpse of his light-hearted sense of humor. Mr. Oliver has read an impressive number of books, yet he chose this one, displaying his humble character.

Hannah Hortman, Staff Reporter

  Mr. Oliver, one of Millbrook’s finest educators, does an outstanding job in preparing his students for the rigor of secondary education. He works day and night to provide his students with quality feedback, enhancing their writing and analytical skills. After graduating in 2008 from UNC-Greensboro with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education, he found himself interning for a freshman English class studying poetry. He realized that he could explain the figurative language to them in terms of an equation. That is when he knew that teaching was his calling. 

  Fast forward to today, Mr. Oliver has been teaching for twelve years. He has always taught at International Baccalaureate schools. Mr. Oliver said, “My favorite part about teaching is building relationships with students and having a job that is as different as I want it to be.” He likes having more freedom in what is taught on a year-to-year basis. As an IB teacher, he is given more flexibility in the lessons prepared for students because the program is focused on teaching skills rather than content. Thus, the texts and bodies of work studied often change every year, allowing for variation in the learning experience for both IB students and teachers!

  At Millbrook, he teaches IB Theory of Knowledge and IB Language and Literature. He enjoys teaching IB Language and Literature because it is “extremely cool to see the diversity of texts within a high school English class.” Mr. Oliver’s goal for his English students is to help them see multiple arguments and identify what ideologies are being sold to them as consumers of media and literature. Junior Casey Wild said, “We did standard English class things, but we also got to study Beyonce’s music videos! It was the most educational English class I have ever been in while also being the most interesting and fun.”

  Mr. Oliver finds value in the size and diversity of our student body. He noted that he continues to see student leadership across different nationalities, racial and social backgrounds within his classes. In addition, he appreciates that IB is open enrollment because it offers multiple student perspectives due to varying life experiences. 

  Speaking of life experiences, Mr. Oliver described that COVID-19 has made him feel like a first-year teacher again. This year forced him to reevaluate his time-management. To adapt to this new teaching environment, he has set aside significantly more time for planning and grading. Due to social barriers faced in virtual learning, Mr. Oliver has made an effort to offer students time in breakout rooms. Although it can be difficult to get students to communicate with each other due to unfamiliarity with classmates, he has found it successful and worth the time to continue managing breakout rooms. He feels that this student interaction is really needed in this online setting. When asked about the classroom environment, Casey said, “I loved the way Mr. Oliver’s classroom functioned. We were able to participate and share our ideas constantly. He created a very relaxed and welcoming environment. I took away a lot from this class including lessons of cultural appreciation and open-mindedness.”

  Aside from his exceptional teaching reputation, Mr. Oliver serves as the faculty advisor for Millbrook’s Gay-Straight Alliance or Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) depending on wording preference. He feels that GSA is extremely important for offering community to LGBTQ+ students. Mr. Oliver has displayed a passion for English and cultivating meaningful relationships with his students. His honorable character and reputable teaching style are just two reasons why he deserves to be recognized in this teacher tribute!