Teaching awkward topics


Caleb Beiswenger

Mrs. Nyman and Mr. Lovrich are tasked with teaching sensitive topics in heath class.

Tighe Eaken Jr., Staff Writer

Do you remember how awkward it was when your parents gave you the talk about “the birds and the bees”?

Well, imagine being in your the shoes of your health teachers, who don’t know you as intimately as your parents and yet have to teach these  and other potentially awkward topics to teenagers in high school.

It’s a difficult task that Mrs. Lori Nyman and Mr. Nick Lovrich have to tackle every year as part of Bellwood-Antis’s health curriculum. Included in the course are the topics of sex education, drugs, and alcohol.

There are other sensitive topics, as well. Along with a human sexuality unit that takes place in Health I during freshman year, there are also lessons on mental health, suicide prevention, and dealing with death in Health II, which is an 11th grade course.

I enjoy teaching these topics because it’s information that the students need to know to be healthy.

— Mrs. Nyman

Mrs. Nyman said she doesn’t feel awkward when teaching her health topics. Instead, she enjoys it and tries to be as up front with her students as possible.

Her primary goal is for her students to be able to walk away with as much knowledge as possible.

“I teach these so-called ‘awkward’ subjects by being very straightforward and blunt with my students,” Mrs. Nyman said. “I enjoy teaching these topics because it’s information that the students need to know to be healthy. I want them to take this information I teach them and use it to make good decisions in their future.”

Mrs. Nyman and Mr. Lovrich are tasked with educating students on potentially difficult topics all while trying to make sure they are comfortable learning about the material they are covering.

Mr. Lovrich explained that there is a lot of responsibility in addressing topics like sex and substance use.

“I’m good at having these types of conversations. I just go with the flow,” he said. “I also understand that this may be the only time the students are taught about these topics because a lot of parents would rather have their kids hear these from me, their teacher, than having to teach it at home themselves”

Mrs. Nyman said approaching these topics with a sense of humor can ease students’ apprehension.

“It’s okay to laugh, and as a teacher, it’s important to acknowledge that the students may feel awkward or uncomfortable sometimes, and you have to just treat it like any other subject,” she said.

The conversations are a lot less awkward and easier to have if you build a relationship with the students, Mr. Lovrich said.

“It’s important to make these types of conversations less awkward by making sure that the students feel comfortable, and be relatable to them. It’s also important to take the time to get to know them and let them know that they can trust you, ”  said Mr. Lovrich. 

Mr. Lovrich and Mrs. Nyman also have teenagers of their own. But unlike Mrs Nyman, Mr. Lovrich’s children go to Bellwood-Antis, and have been in his health class before.

“I teach my own kids just like I teach the rest of my students. I’m the same at home as I am here at school, so I don’t think it makes it any more awkward teaching my kids such topics” said Mr. Lovrich.

Always unshakeable, Mrs. Nyman said addressing the awkward topics with her own children isn’t awkward to her, but “hey probably think it’s pretty awkward though.”