Paul Forster is the teacher you wanted to have in high school. Among his many interests, one of his most intriguing is his desire to be an organic farmer.
"You don't have to have a million acres to do this stuff. That really appeals to me, especially with this recent credit meltdown," Forster says. "It's like, do I really want to sit here waiting for something like that to blindside me? That's what I'd like to do. It's really reflexively alternative."
The 24-year-old Petal native currently resides in Fondren with his wife, Anne Lowrey, and their two kids, Ada, 4, and Eason, 2with another one on the way.
Forster graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2006 with a degree in political science and had every intention to go to medical school. After graduating and studying pre-medical sciences at Mississippi College, though, he realized that medicine wasn't the path he wanted to follow. He then thought he wanted to get an engineering degree, but knew that he would have to have a job to support his family until he was decided on his future. His parents, both educators, encouraged him to teach.
"They were both like, 'Why don't you be a teacher? You should be a public servant for your whole life," Forster says.
Because most teachers are education majors, Forster took an "alternate-route program" at Hinds Community College for three weeks last summer to get a teaching certificate, then went in search of a job.
"I called every high school in Jackson, and only one returned my call, and that was Forest Hill," Forster says.
Forster's first year as a science teacher at Forrest Hill has taught him many lessons, including the realities facing urban schools. Despite difficulties like poverty, absent or single-parent homes, and apathetic students, Forster says he is determined to challenge his students.
"It's the same thing that really makes me like being a parent," he says. "I feel like one of the best things you can do is teach others good. There aren't enough people in the world who say, 'This is good; this is bad.' This is what I want to teach my kids."
One of Forster's inspirations comes from Cormac McCarthy's novel "The Road," in which a son questions his father about why he has to fight for someone else's well-being.
"He's like, 'Because that's what good people do," Forster says of the book. "Why do I have to look out for him? Because you're supposed to. Just 'cause. I just like being able to tell somebody that, even if they don't listen to me.