The Big Question

“What inspires you most when you are teaching? What is one element of what you teach that you hope your students will remember 10 years from now?”

I’m constantly inspired by my students, particularly when they go beyond the topic at hand to ask more profound questions about why the content is relevant to their lives. Their inquisitive approach makes me excited for our future generations! One of my favorite areas to teach is social psychology. From this, I hope students learn to interrogate their ever-evolving identities and think about how they affect others and how others affect them. I hope that they gain a better understanding of themselves, which will ultimately help them have a better understanding of the world.— Tyla Taylor, Science Teacher (appointed in 2021)

Adolescence is necessarily concerned with issues of identity, and through making art that matters to them, students explore their own beliefs, preferences, values, and voices. I hope they remember to clean up after themselves! I tell my students that their ability to clean up after themselves is a matter of personal integrity. I ask them, “Do you want to be someone in life after whom others have to clean up, or are you going to be someone who is responsible for your own actions?” It works wonders and I hardly ever have to clean the art room after a class is over.— Natania Hume, Art Department Chair (appointed in 2004)

I find it inspiring when a student arrives at a level of proficiency where I can become more of a coach than a teacher. That independence is our end goal, of course, but getting little glimpses of this evolution along the way inspires me to keep revamping my practices. I hope they remember that reading is literally magic; words are just black scratches on a white page, yet they can conjure entire worlds and convey perspectives across time and geography.— Josh Rilla, English Teacher (appointed in 2021)

I hope my students will think of our ER verb endings jingle when they hear Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” I hope they remember blindfolded obstacle courses to learn the imperative, and Gordon Ramsay cooking skits to practice the subjunctive. I hope they remember “becoming” a film character to better understand World War II. I hope they remember laughing to the point of tears, taking risks, and being fearless in their pursuit of speaking French. Most of all, I hope my students will remember that fun and rigor can and should coexist. That is the single greatest lesson they can take from their time in my class.— Sue Michalski, French Teacher (appointed in 1999)I spend a lot of time thinking about how my students might respond to activities, what questions they might have about the book we are reading, or how a particular free-write prompt might go. But no matter how much I prepare, there are always moments when students surprise me. These moments are my favorite parts of teaching: when a student has an idea that is totally original, or asks a question so unexpected that it pulls me up short. Teaching is most rewarding when it is not a one-way street, when the knowledge flows in both directions, from teacher to student and back again.— Maggie Haas, English Teacher (appointed in 2022)

I’m inspired by kids who take intellectual risks and have a sense of humor. I hope they remember that I was someone who cared about them and that felt they could take risks in the classroom because they felt safe and heard.— Kyle Hanford ’97, English Teacher (appointed in 2011)

I find teenagers to be so full of energy, and they absolutely never get boring! I hope they remember that mathematics is more about verbal reasoning and problem solving than about numbers. —Kathryn Hill, Math Teacher (appointed in 2011)

I get inspired when I listen to my students express themselves in another language. It is critical thinking without borders. The fact that I am helping to form intercultural minds for the future inspires me every day. I hope they remember the thrill and excitement of expressing their true nature and the fact that they have an international voice that can transcend borders and make changes in society.— Jesus Lopez Diez, Spanish Teacher (appointed in 2022)

I’m inspired by students’ passion, humor, joy, curiosity, and care for one another and the community we build in our classroom. I hope they remember that literature can change their lives for the better. It’s incredible how literature has the ability to make us feel less alone. Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep thinking. Keep questioning.—Sarah Levine, English Teacher (appointed in 2019)