The BHS Writers Club has chosen to conduct interviews of all the new teachers in Babylon. One of these teachers is Mrs. Kahn, a lively and quirky teacher known for her diverse teaching methods. Mrs. Kahn has quickly come to be appreciated by all of her students. She teaches AP United States History and Global 10.
Where did you study?
I went to high school at St. John the Baptist and then I went to Loyola College (Now Loyola University), which is a small Jesuit university in Baltimore. From there I got my master’s degree at Northwestern. So, my undergrad, I was a history major and for graduate school, I studied teacher leadership with an emphasis in literacy.
Why did you come to Babylon?
Well, I’m from Long Island, and I had been living off of Long Island for the last 8 years. So, you know, I got married, I wanted to have a family and I wanted to move back home. I had been working in charter schools. Charter schools have longer school days and longer school years. It makes it challenging to have a family and I was looking to settle down and become part of a community. Babylon has an awesome very close-knit community which really drew me here.
Why did you choose to become a teacher?
I’ve always wanted to become a teacher. My babysitter growing up was studying to be a teacher and I wanted to be her. So, if she wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to be a teacher. It’s kind of lame, but that’s what it was. Also, I always just really liked teaching. You know, whenever the teacher asked to pass out papers, I always wanted to be doing that kind of stuff.
Why did you choose to teach history?
I went to college thinking I was going to be a math teacher because I’m really good at math and I’m really good at science. I didn’t really like history or English in high school. But as a freshman and sophomore in college, I was taking history classes, and they were so interesting. In high school history was like “memorize these 3 things and then spit it back in a paragraph.” In college, I realized that history was much more than just memorizing dates and names and there was actually investigating and inquiry and argument. I realized that it was what I wanted to teach and that I wanted to bring that approach back into high school.
How would you describe yourself?
Enthusiastic, energetic, fast-talking, loyal and hardworking. I think I’m one of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet. I always give everything to everything that I do.
What’s your favorite topic to teach?
Hands down French Revolution.
If you had a boat what would you name it?
I would name my boat Vanessa Mary. That’s my little sister. I’m one of six, and not that you should have a favorite sibling but she’s my favorite sibling. She is cognitively impaired and has autism, but she and I have always had a close connection and so I would definitely name my boat after her.
What makes a “good day” at school?
A good day at school would involve a lot of engagement from my students. lots of smiling and laughter. I think that learning should be fun but also focused. I love jokes but more than a joke, I love a history joke. I love when people are willing to be nerdy with me. So, a good day at school would be everybody nerding out with me, having debates and discussions about sources, having conversations with kids about things other than school just to make those kinds of personal connections. Good lunch, maybe some Swell, that always makes a day even better.
Do you have any useless talents?
I can pick things up with my toes.
What superstitions or traditions do you have?
I always knock on wood. Can’t hurt. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I don’t need to mess with it. Traditions? My family always eats lasagna at Thanksgiving.
What is the weirdest thing that a student has ever done?
Well, that duck is up there. (Author’s note: There’s a duck plush toy on the smart board.) One of my more fun experiences was at the end of the year one of my students made a bet with me about their performance on the end of the year exam, and the winner got to dump a bucket of ice water over the loser’s head. I ended up being the winner so I got to dump a bucket of ice water over the kid’s head. I’ve also been pied in the face before, but all for a good cause. Like raising money for Relay for Life. I take my job seriously, but you also need to have fun at the same time. Obviously, cancer sucks, but if I can take a pie in the face to raise money for the American Cancer Society I’ll do it every single time.
What is your favorite song? Singer?
It’s Simon & Garfunkel, Cecilia. Every time I hear that song, it just puts me in a good mood. My favorite artist… definitely The Beatles.
What is your favorite book?
I wish I had something profound like The Great Gatsby but my favorite books were The Hunger Games. I really loved reading The Hunger Games. I read the whole trilogy in a day and a half it was just so interesting.
What is your favorite show on TV?
My favorite show on right now is The Good Place. It’s very funny. My favorite show of all time is probably Friends. I’ve seen the whole series twice.
Who is your celebrity crush?
Jared Leto. This is going way back to My So-Called Life on MTV when I was 14. George Clooney too.
Who is your favorite teacher at BHS?
Well, that’s controversial. It would be Mrs. Choinski. She teaches Criminal Justice and Law and Order. I feel really bad because I’m off a lot of the periods when she teaches and I end up interrupting all of their discussions. I find the things that they learn about so interesting.
What is your favorite quote?
“And so I have finally come to understand that while I am hopelessly American, accustomed to (and dependent on) the relentless pressures and fierce energies of the New World, that there are moments when I want to escape to a different place with a beauty and a beat of its own. And when that happens, when I want to disappear from who I am, and where I live, the place I think of is Paris.” –David Halberstam
How would you like to be remembered?
Ideally, if I can be remembered as someone who worked hard and loved harder then I’ll be happy. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day but we do what we do for a reason. I’d like to be remembered by my students as a good teacher who worked them hard but with whom they learned a lot.