17 Apr Teacher Spotlight: Melanie Reichwald
Every Friday we are highlighting one of our truly amazing teachers. This week the spotlight falls on English teacher Melanie Reichwald.
Where are you from?
I’m from Rochester, New York in the USA.
What courses do you teach?
This year, I teach AP English Literature & Composition (Grade 12), AP English Language & Composition (Grade 11), and Creative Writing.
How many years have you been teaching?
This is my third year of full-time teaching in high school, but I also taught for about five years at the university level while pursuing my Master’s degrees.
Can you tell us about an interaction you had with a student that makes you feel fulfilled as a teacher?
It’s hard to pick one moment, but I feel fulfilled for two reasons. First, though I often don’t see the full effect of writing instruction, I do sometimes see students make huge improvements on a particular essay they have revised. This brings meaning and value to what I teach within the classroom. Second, I feel fulfilled when students come in to discuss problems they may have in or outside of the classroom. I love that personal connection of getting to know a student beyond his or her work in English.
What is something interesting happening in your classroom?
For me, the most interesting and surprising part of teaching is when students themselves can direct the discussion’s focus. For example, our final Hamlet discussion is tomorrow, and the questions – which are great questions – were written and refined by the students, not me. When this happens, they feel like they have some control in following their interests, and I get to learn about what matters to them in a particular text. It’s fun to see discussions like this unfold.
What is your favorite part of teaching at Woodstock?
I love the students, of course. They’re quirky and funny, and the students I teach are in that moment just before coming into adulthood. I also enjoy the flexibility I have in my own classroom here. Our administrators are generally really supportive of experimentation with and exploration of ideas, and I feel comfortable focusing on the big questions rather than feeling pressured to always teach to the AP exam.
What makes Woodstock students unique?
The main quality that speaks to me is that they generally can build bridges across cultural divides. To see cross-cultural friendships and discussions always gives me hope that being in a diverse setting is valuable. Our students do seem generally accepting of difference, even if they don’t always get along with everyone.