When Alaria Long was in fourth grade at Glenn O. Swing Elementary School in 2009, she sat in the classroom of her favorite teacher, Rachel Jenkins, who taught her reading, writing and math.??
Alaria is back in Mrs. Jenkins’ classroom learning how to create lesson plans for those subjects as she now is a student-teacher.
“I was thrilled when I heard that my former student was returning to do her student teaching at GOS,” said Mrs. Jenkins, who remembers Alaria as a very driven and serious student. “It was also very meaningful that she wanted to be placed in my classroom. It makes me feel like I made a lasting impact. In my 16 years here, I believe this is the first time we’ve had a former student return as a student-teacher. It was fun introducing my former student to my current students.”
Alaria is a product of Covington Independent Public Schools, graduating from Holmes High School in 2018. She went on to Kentucky State University, finished her coursework in three years, and is now preparing to teach.
Alaria as a 4th grader in 2009
“My heart is in education,” she said. “I am surrounded by educators, my mom, my dad, my uncle. So just being around them influenced and motivated me. But what I like about teaching most is being able to positively influence students by being a good role model.”
Glenn O’s faculty was abuzz when they learned Alaria was coming back to do her student teaching there. Principal Sherry Lindberg who was Alaria’s science teacher, knew the school was getting a student from Kentucky State but had no idea it was Alaria until she saw the paperwork.
“I was like this couldn’t be the same Alaria that was here just a few years ago,” Mrs. Lindberg said. “I couldn’t believe she was already finishing college. Seems like she was just here yesterday. I just had to call her mother and ask if this was our Alaria.”
Alaria’s mother, Nadine Long, is a counselor at Holmes Middle School. Alaria’s uncle, Jon Hopkins, is a counselor at Holmes High School. Ms. Long said she is so happy for her daughter.
Alaria wrote this note to her teacher — and Mrs. Jenkins saved it.
“Even though I’m glad she is following in my footsteps, she definitely has formed her own path,” Ms. Long said. “She has definitely taken advantage of opportunities she’s been presented with.”
Alaria took dual credit classes while at Holmes, finishing high school with 21 college credit hours. She was No. 8 in her graduating class. Alaria also earned several scholarships that paid for college.
While at Kentucky State, she took extra courses each semester. She just turned 21 and will be graduating from Kentucky State in May.
“When she knew she could come back home for student teaching, she wanted to go to Glenn O,” Ms. Long said. “She knew that would be the best experience for her to learn from the teachers that taught her.”
Alaria’s father, Al, said he is very proud of his daughter.
“We are a service-oriented family. So, we have trained her up since she was a child to figure out ways in which she could give to the community,” said Long, a director for strategic initiatives for CORE DC who also serves on the board of Great Oaks Career Campuses in Cincinnati.
Alaria wants to model her teaching after Mrs. Jenkins.
“She was a strong disciplinarian who had very high expectations and made sure we met all of them,” Alaria said. “I love how she teaches. She is definitely a role model. I still call her Mrs. Jenkins. I hope to one day be as good as she is.”