Anastasia Hercules Uses Her Personal Experiences to Teach


Credit to Oscar Sun

By Ivy Lowery

History is one of the core classes and most important subjects in every school. From learning about the ancient city of Mesopotamia to the empowerment in the civil rights movement, all history is valuable. Most teachers may teach from the book or assign students to read chapters of the textbook, but not Anastasia Hercules. Hercules is a U.S. History and Contemporary Issues teacher at FHN. Hercules has traveled to 20 different countries around the world, just to understand and gain more knowledge of what she teaches to her students, as well as making herself more aware about the world.

Students in Hercules’ class would say that she has several  things to share and show to help her students. From PowerPoints to real artifacts and her experiences in other countries, there’s nothing left unseen and unknown to her students.

“I always collect all kinds of things,” Hercules said. “We do museum days, so if I taught World History, I would have a Museum day for every region that I teach and we bring in food and all kinds of stuff. Every time I go overseas I am always collecting things for class. Even when I’m watching movies, I’m always watching movies that are pertaining to class.”

In class, Hercules gets her message across to many students who realize what she does to give her students the best education she can. Freshman Andrew Nevenner is one of Hercules’ students in U.S. History.

“I like her class because it challenges me, even though I may get aggravated at first,” Nevenner said. “In the long run, it makes me think more, here and in other classes. Compared to other teachers, she actively makes us actively do it rather than copy it from a PowerPoint. We have to do it ourselves and learn stuff, so I definitely think she works harder than most. It’s different because I think her class is setting me up for the future, unlike my other history classes.”

Hercules is taking students to Costa Rica and Panama during the summer to explore other countries and learn beyond the classroom. Hercules’ first experience taking students on a trip overseas was when she worked at Webster County School District in Kentucky, where she used to teach.

“I would say one of my best experiences was the first time I took students overseas to Costa Rica,” Hercules said. “To see some kids I had as freshmen that were now seniors. We were all crying at the end because they finally saw throughout the course of the trip everything I was trying to teach them about being aware of other countries and being aware of other cultures.”

To be able to become a high school history teacher, you don’t have to get a degree in the subject you plan to teach. When Hercules discovered this, she decided she needed to do more to offer the best class possible for her students and to make herself more educated in what she teaches.

“Well, first of all I have a degree in history, which means I have studied history, not just education. I did that because when I found out how many history classes were required to get just a social studies teaching certificate, I just thought it was shameful. I just told them that’s not enough. So I got a full degree in history, and then got my certification in English,” Hercules said. “I guess I’m always learning, I think learning is cool.”

Not many people wake up in the morning and question how they can change the world. This question came naturally to Hercules and it has been her goal to figure it out and make it happen.

“[I became a history teacher] because I wanted to make the world a better place and then I thought, ‘What made me a better person?’” Hercules said. “I thought politicians really don’t change that much– they don’t change people. They can change laws but that doesn’t necessarily change people. I could be a motivational speaker but you know, that might stick with you for a week or two, but the person that changed my life was my high school European History teacher, Bud Renkin, at Francis Howell [FHHS]. I decided that the people who change the world the most and change people the most are teachers.”