Memories of Ms. Montesi, My English Teacher

Is teaching a science or is teaching is an art?

The science of teaching with teacher evaluation rubrics, value added measurements, data driven instruction…none of these were features in my high school experience, but if I had to guess, they would not have changed how Ms. Joanne M. Montesi, my high school English teacher, taught her classes. If there was science behind her methodology, I was unaware of it.

Ms. Montesi, my high school English teacher

Ms. Montesi, my high school English teacher

I saw her artistry.

Her classroom was an active environment.

She was passionate about literature…all kinds.

She shamelessly “name-dropped” authors and characters.

She was smart.

She gave us choice in reading and in presentation.

She was quick-witted.

She possessed great classroom management skills.

She was kind.

I loved Ms. Montesi.

After high school, I would run into her occasionally. She would be at the movies or a play. She  was usually alone; she never married. She always greeted me as though I had just entered her classroom. Her face would brighten, “Why, hello, Colette!”

I admired her independence.

Ms. Montesi passed away on August 4th, this year. She had been retired for 15 years.

I owe a great deal of who I am as a student to Ms. Montesi, but more than that, I owe her for who I am as a teacher.

I wanted to be an English teacher when I was in high school; I wanted to be Ms. Montesi.

I now teach English to high school students. I study the methodology, and I use data driven instruction. I evaluate other teachers using rubrics.

While I do understand the science of teaching, I hope I have Ms. Montesi’s art.

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