Lynden Spotlight: Teacher Christy Maberry

Lynden Spotlight: Teacher Christy Maberry
Posted on 01/19/2017
Reading has value beyond understanding words or learning grammar, at least in Christy Maberry’s Lynden High School English classes. “Reading good books makes students think about their world and get them outside of their world,” the 30-plus-year Lynden veteran teacher says. “I think English is a good means to get kids to think about themselves and express themselves.”

While Maberry has seen the drastic change in students and their interest in reading since landing at the high school in the fall of 1982—“kids don’t read now like they used too, there is too much going on in their lives”—understanding the changes has put an even greater importance on literacy in her class. And while she’s a self-professed “grammar geek” and “word nerd,” she says the grammar is secondary, more a tool to open their eyes to the importance of reading, even if they don’t love it initially.

Even if Maberry works with a “clientele that doesn’t like to read,” she does what she can to change that. To help students find a love—or at least an enjoyment—Maberry spends a lot of her personal time and money trying to improve the reading of her students. She visits young adult literature seminars every year to scout the newest and best books written for young adults. She buys books out of her own pocket she thinks might interest students. She devotes class time to reading, something missing from many students’ lives. Maberry meets one-on-one with kids to find out what they like and suggest books to fit that interest. It is that extra effort that often leads someone into reading simply because they have found a book that captures their attention.

“You know you are pretty successful when they like that (first) book and come back asking for another you suggest,” she says. “That is when I know I got them hooked.”

Outside of her life as an English teacher, Maberry never strays too far from her love of reading. She has a place in Eastern Washington without electricity or power, a place she goes to unwind. “It is Heaven on earth,” she says. “I spend a lot of time in Eastern Washington relaxing and reading.”

It is both there and in Whatcom County that Maberry still plies her landscape architecture interest. She originally attended Washington State University planning to become a landscape architect, but math classes scared her back into English as a profession. Between the two locations, Maberry still gets to tend to the outdoors, accompanied by “lots of pets,” an interest derived from a father who was a veterinarian. But along with the landscapes and pets, Maberry never strays far from books.

Always with a pile of books to tackle, Maberry enjoys mixing up her genres, but will gravitate toward true stories and memoirs. She also reads plenty of young adult books to discover new and appropriate work for her classes. And since she re-reads every book she teaches, Maberry always has a couple of different books in the works at one time. But when summer comes, she can eliminate the distractions and focus on one book at a time. She can focus on reading for the love of reading, just the way she likes it and just the way she teaches it.