BSGE has a new 9th and 10th grade English teacher: Jamie Meisler.
“We [BSGE] had been needing a new English teacher for a while; Niki Singh left and it became too much for the current English teachers,” said Izzy Hernandez ’14, who sat down and participated in the trial lessons of prospective teachers. Recently, Ms. Meisler sat down with the BaccRag to answer some questions and tell us more about herself. This is not Ms. Meisler’s first time as an English teacher. She previously taught at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn, NY, for ten years, and Irvington, Westchester for two years. She believes that in comparison to other schools the students in BSGE are of a strong caliber; though focused on their grades, students here are interested in learning. Ms. Meisler can gauge the level of student involvement by the questions asked which “show they are interested in the works.” Progress in class is measured, aside from essay and test grades, by checking for engagement in class material and answers to in-class questions. English is not a disconnected class; making associations between what students know from other classes, like social studies for example, is significant.
When asked for a favorite literary work to read or teach, Ms. Meisler said, “Oh, now you’re going to have to stay for an hour.” Her favorites include Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, which she has read multiple times since 10th grade. “Every read since, I discover deeper lessons,” she explained. She also enjoys anything by Virginia Woolf. When it comes to teaching, she likes Shakespeare’s Macbeth “because it explores so many extremes in humanity.” There are many short stories that she finds interesting because they can take you “around the world or time periods in any one unit with unifying themes.” Her favorite place to read is in “any kind of cafe – like a Starbucks – while people-watching.” In college, Ms. Meisler had to make a decision to either go on to get a PhD or teach in college or high school. The question was at which age to teach, but she “always knew [she] wanted to teach.” She is drawn to high schoolers because they are reaching “adulthood, straddling two worlds.” Ms. Meisler shared her thinking during her career decision – advice that can be applied to anyone undergoing the college application process: you should be committed to your education and meeting new people, while being open to everything. Ms. Meisler is a fan of the IB program; she feels it prepares students very well for what comes next in college.
After applying for this job at BSGE, Ms. Meisler convinced herself that “everything works out in the end.” She explained how she felt about the process of trying out for the teaching position. “You research the school but try to not get too attached because of the possibility of disappointment. I was terrified of presenting to the students, I don’t think I slept the night before. Teaching is like performing; you have to be yourself while accomplishing a lot. I thought I messed it up, it was terrifying.” In addition to teaching, Ms. Meisler writes fiction. “I’m lucky I can now do both,” she said.