By Lauren Azrin
As this year comes to a close, we are saddened to have to say goodbye to some of our favorite teachers as they retire. I had the privilege of sitting down with my English teacher, Mrs. Isaac, who is retiring this year after teaching English for 32 years in White Plains and for 33 in general, to talk about her experiences throughout her journey.
It all started when she was a child; she has enjoyed reading for as long as she can remember and explained, “When I was a student, I loved my teachers, and everything that they did just seemed interesting to me. Teaching was just something that I always wanted to do, as I’ve always liked sharing my love of reading with kids.”
Her job teaching in the White Plains School District has never failed to excite her. To her, White Plains School District is a welcoming place where she has always felt supported. She loves the diversity and how she gets to work with kids from so many backgrounds. She remembers the kindness so many of her students have shown, as she’s made so many new friends along her journey. When I asked her what she thinks she’ll miss most about teaching, she responded with, “Everything!” Working with kids, she believes, has always helped her to stay young and laugh a lot, which she’ll definitely miss.
When looking back on her experience, many memories stand out to her that she will always cherish. She worked in many different buildings and schools in the district, so making a change was always very exciting. One important memory to her was when she made the transition from middle school to public school after teaching there for 22 years and wanting to try something new. Many of the students that she had previously had in middle school had also transitioned into the high school, and when they saw her there, “People came up to me and started hugging me and welcoming me, so that made me feel really good and was a really nice memory.” Also, she remembers how much she’s loved the times when she has co-taught with other teachers in the high school and has learned new things from working with them.
She has always enjoyed helping her students to succeed and grow. She has worked with so many students, but still, every time she helps a student who’s struggling to become more confident and successful, it’s always a great feeling. She explained how, “Everyday I’m learning something and I feel like teaching is sometimes more learning than teaching- I’m constantly learning new ways to teach something. As I listen to kids and they tell me what they think about a text, I always think, everyday, ‘wow I never thought of It that way’… For me, there’s always been delight and enthusiasm with that… that has always been very special.”
Mrs. Isaac has learned that her way isn’t the only way. She might read something and think a certain way and then a student might say something that expresses it in a new way, and she realizes that what they’re saying could also be right. She explained that it happens, “especially when I teach poetry- every year that I give out the same poem, somebody, guaranteed, is going to say something that I never considered, and it’s just like a light bulb goes off, and it’s great.”
Besides teaching, Mrs. Isaac has many different interests and hobbies. She loves reading and is in a book club, is a cook, and is also a runner. She’s very excited to cook more and to be able to run and go to the gym in the morning. She’s also really excited to take classes, specifically an Italian class, as she is very passionate about languages.
She’s interested in finding a way to still get the chance to work with kids and use the same skills and interests, but she is happy that she will have more time to spend with her family, especially on the weekends.
When I asked her what she’ll take with her from all of her years teaching, she said, “I’ll take with me that there’s always multiple ways to look at something…similar to what Atticus says about empathy, I feel like I’ve worked hard to try to understand other students’ perspectives.”
She will also take her love of learning and hopes that, “The students carry their passion of learning through their entire lives. School doesn’t end when high school or college is over; it always continues as long as we’re alive.”
We’ll miss her dearly here at White Plains High School and wish her good luck and success with all of her future endeavors!