Three babies have been born to members of the English Department in the last month, resulting in familiar faces returning to the halls of Andover High School in order to help fill vacancies.
The first teacher to deliver was Ms. Niles, followed by Mr. Keene’s wife, and a day later, Ms. Johnson. The three teachers have taken time off consequently. Mr. Howland and Mr. Gangi are retired members of the English Department, and have returned to fill in for Ms. Niles and Ms. Johnson’s classes.
The recent absences of the teachers has caused a slight disturbance in the students’ curriculum. Melanie Hilman, junior and member of Mr. Keene’s American Literature class, believes that “although we’ve been on top of things, I feel as if we haven’t been learning what we could be learning in that time.”
Mr. Gangi began filling in for Ms. Niles recently and said, “Right now I’d say the kids are in the learning process. We’re trying to figure each other out.”
Mr. Howland, the former head of the department, and substitute teacher for Ms. Johnson, points out the difficulties in being a substitute teacher for a short time. He believes that the connection made between the students, teacher and material presented over the course of the semester is the most important part. He said, “Nobody is smart enough or important enough to grade what really happens to someone internally. That connection to ideas and a sense of self is the most exciting part.”
From a student’s standpoint, Hilman finds that it is hard for a subsitute teacher to sufficiently fill the shoes of a teacher. She said, “These substitute teachers give out whatever is given to them, unlike the teachers who really know the material, and teach us.”
Mr. Keene left on paternity leave for a few weeks, leaving behind a long lesson plan for his students and substitute, leaving student-driven activities to work on. He said that the students have handled the situation well, despite the lack of consistency in teachers. He said, “the students have been great. They’ve been resilient, and understanding. I feel that all of my classes are still in a good place in terms of what we’ve been able to learn and accomplish this semester.”
Both Mr. Howland and Mr. Gangi are glad to be back at Andover High School and interacting with the students again.
By Mari Nagahara