At the end of the current school year, long time BSGE history teacher, Linda Ellman, plans to retire. Linda has been teaching for 17 years and upon retirement she is looking forward to continuing her lifelong engagement in social activism as well as to the arrival of her first grandchild.
After hearing the news of the retirement, Linda’s former and current students communicated a lot of praise and appreciation for her work. Current student, Lydia Stetson ’15 said, “Linda is not only an amazing teacher but also a great person just to sit down and have a conversation with…BSGE won’t be the same without her!”
Former student Jolijt Tamanaha ’11 shared, “I loved her! I think Linda has a huge amount of passion for everything she believes in and does, including teaching, which is really admirable and inspiring.”
Linda has been with BSGE since it opened in 2002. Thinking back to the founding of BSGE, Linda recounts, “it was amazing and crazy in the beginning.” BSGE only had a 7th and 9th grade and didn’t have its own building yet. The school spent a year inside the Robert Wagner School building before moving to its current location. She says that “it was wonderful how parents and kids were interested in trying something” and that she was proud to be part of something that went from being very theoretical at first to something that people thought was possible to now being a well-established program. She particularly remembers the year that “over 50% of the diploma candidates received the IB Diploma which gave a sense that we were on the right track to reaching our goals.”
Former Principal Bill Stroud shared some thoughts on Linda’s role in the early days of BSGE as well. He said, “When we started BSGE, I wanted her to be one of the founders. Linda has special insights into the teaching of history and developing literacy across the curriculum, is particularly attentive to the concerns of parents, and has always worked to address the needs of all students in a school community. These attributes are related to her life-long commitment to social justice; or schooling for the development of a more democratic society.”
History teacher Jennifer Dikes shared a similar sentiment to Bill Stroud, saying, “She’s been instrumental in making this school what it is and this department what it is.”
One of her former students, Neha Mehta ’14, shared some mixed emotions upon learning of Ms. Ellman’s retirement. She said, “Although I’m upset future BSGE classes won’t get the wonderful opportunity to be taught by her, I’m also really happy that I was able to have that experience (in getting to know her so well) and that she’ll be enjoying herself during retirement, something she really deserves. She’s an amazing teacher and woman and she helped me in so many ways, super grateful for that!”
Reflecting on her retirement, Ms. Ellman said that she will “miss the energy and humor of young people” and will miss the fact that there are so many kids who are interested in thinking about and discussing big ideas. She recounted that recently a “student came in and said what he was reading about corruption in the nineteenth century seemed so similar to the machinations of politicians today.” She added that so often students say things and have ideas that never occurred to her before.
In addition to working with students Linda has also served a vital role as a mentor to many of the teachers at BSGE, many of whom were new to the profession when they started here. Commenting on Ms. Ellman’s impact on BSGE, English teacher Connie You said, “Linda is probably the teacher who has left the largest mark on the faculty’s pedagogy. She has formally and informally trained a great many of us and in that sense she will always be here, in this building.”
Guidance Counselor Tim David-Lang shared a story about meeting Ms. Ellman prior to starting work at BSGE. He said, “When I came to visit the school, I watched Linda teach and talked to her and talking to her got me excited about the school and working here.”
In addition to her professional contributions, Ms. Ellman was also considered a close friend to many on the staff. Ms. You also shared that, “she has been the only mentor I have ever had in my life and my closest friend. There were times when I spoke to her daily more than I did my own husband! I can’t begin to think about her not being here.”
BSGE Principal Ms. Johnson commented, “I’m sincerely grateful for her intellect, her energy, and her commitment to the BSGE family.”
Though Ms. Ellman is retiring, she plans to continue to be involved in education and intends to volunteer at the middle school where her daughter is a teacher.