Mrs. Michelle Chachus walks into her classroom carrying a small, glittery gift bag. The bag is filled with candy–Kit Kats, Skittles, lollipops–and she regularly stocks it for her teaching assistant. She plops the bag down on her desk.
A social studies teacher at Andover High School for more than ten years, Mrs. Chachus is famous for her sarcasm, but her generosity is equally well known. Never one to shy away from rewarding her students for their hard work, she offers lollipops to every student who attends an after-school review session in the weeks leading up to the AP U.S. History exam. But candy isn’t the only benefit students will find from taking a class with her.
“Mrs. Chachus literally changed my life. She showed me the complexities of history–that every history has a dark side and a light side,” said Jaime Street, a member of the Class of 2015. Street, who took two classes with Mrs. Chachus, wants to be a history teacher. “Mrs. Chachus instilled the belief in me that history is a vital lesson that everyone needs to learn to shape the future.”
In addition to teaching AP U.S. History, Mrs. Chachus is one half of the 20th Century Studies dream team–the other is Miss Rickley, an English teacher. The two are so close that Mrs. Chachus’ young daughters refer to Miss Rickley as Aunt Judy. Their friendship presents itself in a stream of banter during every class.
“For me it’s very energizing,” Miss Rickley said. “We bring out the best in each other.”
It’s easy to see why; Miss Rickley’s nuanced sense of humor is complemented by Mrs. Chachus’s wit. Chachus’s sarcasm is sharp, yet never alienating. As soon as you enter her class, you feel like you’re in on one big private joke.
“If something goes wrong, blame Miss Rickley,” Mrs. Chachus regularly jokes. “It’s her fault.”
Street isn’t the only student to express the huge impact that Mrs. Chachus had on her.
“Not only is she incredibly witty and kind, she always shows an interest in her students and their well-being both in and out of the classroom,” said Angela Rui, another recent graduate who had two classes with Mrs. Chachus. “She’s someone who’s easy to talk to and I love her a lot. I hope she knows that she’s changed my life for the better.”
Beyond teaching social studies and changing students’ lives, Mrs. Chachus runs the junior class board of directors along with another one of her close friends on the faculty, Miss Lambroukos. The two hand-pick members of the junior class each year to plan and execute events and fundraisers, one of the most popular being Mr. AHS.
“She’s good at balancing the workload,” Miss Lambroukos said of her partner-in-crime. On running junior board with Mrs. Chachus, Miss Lambroukos added, “Her sense of humor makes it very fun. I look forward to it every year.”
At the end of last year, Mrs. Chachus treated the board members to after-school burritos at Chipotle. There, she let a rare sentimental side take over as everyone reminisced about the past year’s adventures.
“You guys are a really good group,” she said. “Can we just have all of you again next year?”
It’s not often that Mrs. Chachus expresses genuine affection for students–she much prefers to joke about how horrible she finds them–so when she does, it is that much more special.
“It’s easy to teach with her,” said Miss Rickley, who seconded something expressed by Miss Lambroukos: “I look forward to it everyday.”
By Ally Okun
Editor’s note: This article was written in response to a Journalism class assignment that required students to profile an adult member of the community without interviewing that person directly.