The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

The Student News Site of Columbia Heights High School

The Heights Herald

Calling all classroom leaders: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

The staff of the CHHS student newspaper, however, would like to spotlight one educator in particular.
Sofia Romero Lopez
Featuring the star of the show, Polley! Celebrating teachers from all around the world and within CHHS, The Heights Herald is proud to honor #TeacherAppreciationDay.

Every year, one week of May is dedicated to those who work on the frontlines of the education system — known as Teacher Appreciation Week. Well, The Heights Herald’s student editing team wanted to specifically highlight a vibrant member of the Columbia Heights Public Schools community for 2024’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Let us introduce you to one of (if not) the best teachers our school has: Chris Polley, better known as Polley by his students. He is the backbone of this publication, a certified film geek, an English teacher, a father and so much more! We are here to recount some of the most memorable moments and most appreciated things about our favorite teacher. 

Co-Editor-in-Chief: Emarie Kusler 

Polley has been one of the most influential people I have ever met. He is always encouraging students to explore writing with personal twists, which I find helpful because the connection between one and their writing can help so many learn how to write in a meaningful way for themselves. Polley is always willing to go above and beyond for each student, making an effort to make an impact, and he has some of the best traits that a teacher can have: patience, empathy, humor and strength. If someone would ask me “Who is the best teacher you ever had?” I would answer Polley. One of the most memorable moments I have of him was when discussing something important about my future, he reassured me that going back into education even after going through college and finding a career is okay to do, that it is up to the person to decide their fate. Small conversations like that stick because they keep me grounded in the fact that my future shouldn’t be defined by a societal expectation of education. Another has got to be the legendary Benson Boone posters sent to us by the pop artist’s record label. Despite how layout stress got to all of us, just having a moment to laugh at the hilarious publicity attempt and take a break was enough to help me through that whole week. A last memory I will always hold dear is when I first transferred back from online learning later than my peers. I was extremely nervous about joining my class mid-quarter. Polley made sure to give me a proper introduction to people in the class, and despite missing time during the semester, it made me feel included when I was adjusting to a completely different and new world. I could describe some more memories and moments that made him my favorite teacher, but it has to ultimately be the fact that he cares for each one of his students, making an effort to try to help and understand them. That is something that students will never forget or take for granted even if they aren’t always vocal about it. If someone were to ask me who my role models were, Polley would be on the list! 

Fashion Editor: Cat Pogreba 

They’re one of the most laid-back and informative teachers I have ever met. Polley is very intelligent, and I can tell how much you care about your students and their well-being, which stands out. Thank you so much for being so influential to not only me but the other people in both journalism and English! 

Feature Editor: Hiedi Lee

Polley’s that one teacher — the one you think of when you get asked the question “Who’s your favorite teacher?” He’s always an option. He’s passionate about making sure we get our voices printed in the newspaper despite all the obstacles, all for the sake of his amazingly and obviously wonderful students. I remember last year sending in my last story of the year and Polley sending me an email, telling me to apply for an editor’s position. I wasn’t going to even join journalism again — besides, it was just an easy elective class right? Somehow it worked either through his cheeky charisma or my lack of strong will. It’s ironic actually, being the Feature Editor and yet never getting the chance to feature the very teacher that teaches the class. Now is Polley’s chance to shine and dazzle in the spotlight while we stand behind the scenes. Polley is really the definition of astonishing. For as much appreciation as he gives us, let us give him twice as much! Maybe then he’ll learn to appreciate himself more. 

Lead Staff Writer: Cassidy Wise 

One thing I appreciate about Polley is how dedicated he is [to] the things he’s involved in — specifically Journalism. He helps students run the only Columbia Heights-based newspaper, which is one of the few high school-level student-run print newspapers in Minnesota. He dedicates a lot of time and energy inside and out of school to the newspaper and is always trying to give students opportunities for leadership and creativity within The Heights Herald.

Opinion Editor: Ezra Riemermann

They have a sort of quality in the way they critique that has allowed me to recognize the difference between prose and quality of argument. In a sense, that has allowed me to significantly improve the quality of my writing and editing. He has the ability to draw articulation out of people who seem resistant to articulation [by] displaying a legitimate sense of respect for others. I cannot imagine somebody more fit to run a student journalism operation.

Sports Editor: Jalue Dorjee

Polley is an amazing teacher. He’s an awesome super-sigma who does his best to make the class as comforting and easy as he can. He’s easy to talk to as well as super helpful and kind — easily the best teacher one could have.

Lead Photographer: Tenagnework Agedie

I appreciate [the] kindness, understanding and compassion you have for your students. Thank you for all that you do!

Co-Editor-in-Chief: Caroline Raleigh

Polley is truly one of the most influential people I’ve ever met. We met when I was recommended to compete in the Scholastic writing competition in my sophomore year. The following year, I was recommended to join journalism, to which I was nervous at first. After about a semester in the class, we started to talk more. It wasn’t until I was announced as Co-EIC that I truly understood how much this relationship would mean to me. All of the planning and learning that went into the role and making sure that I was prepared for it has become one of my fondest memories of becoming Co-EIC. Reading the email and note I was given also holds a special place in my heart. Polley is someone who you can see truly cares about each and every student who steps into his room, whether they are actually in his class or not. I know Polley as someone whom I can always count on and talk to if and when I need it — someplace I can seek comfort, someplace I can call my “home away from home.” When I think back on high school, I know I will remember the random conversations that sparked in the middle of layout, the random Benson Boone arts and crafts projects and the ideas that started out as dumb jokes but turned into something legendary. Polley is one of the people I’m most saddened by having to say goodbye to this June. I know he will continue to lead The Heights Herald to greatness and will continue to change every single student’s life, whether they want to or not.

News Editor: Osob Mohammud 

Polley is the coolest journalism teacher. In the two years I’ve known him, he’s always been there to offer advice and encouragement about my writing. Polley has a real passion for journalism that’s infectious. He pushes me to think critically about the news and find my own unique storytelling. Polley has made a big impact and I’m grateful to have him as a teacher. 

Lead Illustrator: Sandy Moncayo 

Something that stood out to me about Polley was his welcoming attitude. When I first joined journalism, I had my doubts — I thought I wouldn’t fit in right away. However, Polley spared no time to teach me the ropes and soon I found myself “right at home” thanks to him. He’s become someone I can rely on and ask for suggestions regarding my writing, turning me into a great writer thanks to his wonderful critiques! 

Web Editor: Naomi Gbor

You’re a rockstar, Polley. Thank you for the safe space, honest expression, support and comedic sarcasm for the last four years. From poetry to journalism — you’ve always been super cool. Everything helped keep me above water far more than you’ll ever understand! 

A Note from Polley:

When the student editors of The Heights Herald told me they were working on a “secret story” last month, I was cautiously optimistic. When they assured me I would be able to check it for final edits before “putting it on the page” as we say, I felt confident that it would be a pleasant surprise — not a bad one. I was beyond happy to see a couple of short weeks later that they put together the paragraphs above with such kindness, care and eloquence. Student journalism rocks.

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About the Contributor
Sofia Romero Lopez
Sofia Romero Lopez, Staff Writer
Sofia Romero Lopez is a junior and first-year staff writer for The Heights Herald. She likes to write and read poetry and listen to music that puts her in a calm, nostalgic and relaxed mood.