By Jocelyn Chen ‘16
Ms. Sharon Lustbader will be retiring after teaching creative writing and supervising the production of the literary magazine Patterns for 32 years.
“I had her for two years,” said Sarah Walsh ’15, editor-in-chief of Patterns. “Hearing that she’s leaving is like losing a family member.”
Richard Palomeque ‘15 said, “It’s saddening that she has to go. She was like a mother in school and one of the best teachers I had.”
Ms. Lustbader said, “For me, teaching was glorious, and it was as if this was what I was supposed to do.”
As a little girl, she wrote compositions and marked them when playing school with her dolls.
Before teaching at Midwood, Ms. Lustbader had previous experience teaching. She was a student teacher at Lincoln High School and a reading director at New Utrecht High School. She was a book advertiser and later became publisher at Avon Books. After working at Avon Books for three years, she had to return to teaching.
“I was told by the Board of Education that they would rip up my license,” said Ms. Lustbader.
Teachers are required to continue teaching and use their teaching license or their license will be nullified. According to Ms. Lustbader, Avon Books staff didn’t want her to leave and wanted to defend her in court.
“Ultimately, I made the decision to go back and teach,” said Ms. Lustbader. “In my heart, I was always a teacher,”
Ms. Lustbader continued teaching at Midwood because of the students, the “give-and-take”, and the things students produced.
“Patterns is a great way for students to share their creativity,” said Kelly Mei ‘15. “The stories and poems are interesting and I enjoy reading them.”
Patterns is a literary magazine supervised by Ms. Lustbader. According to Ms. Lustbader, the purpose of Patterns is to celebrate the writings of the students in Midwood. Although the process of putting it together is tense, they have fun.
“Patterns is a good experience,” said Emily Kaufman ‘15, an editor for Patterns, “to be creative and practice editing. Working on the magazine was a great learning experience.”
Ms. Lustbader plans to finish the current issue of Patterns before she retires.
“I have never met a student who threw away their portfolio,” said Ms. Lustbader.
Bianna Gas ’16 said, “I learned to be more open and take more risks with writing about things I wouldn’t disclose to classmates.”
Sterling Leal ‘16 said, “Poetry opened new doors to new ways in life; how you would view life as yourself and what others are going through.”
Ms. Lustbader has had many special moments with memorable students. Her students keep in touch with her by writing letters. She received a letter from a former student she had 30 years ago who is now a pediatrician. According to her student in the letter, she joined a reading class, but it was “nothing like her class”.
“One of my favorite moments was when Ms. Lustbader wrote my college recommendation,” said Jacalyn Swintelsky ’15. “It had a special meaning.”
One of Ms. Lustbader’s former students created a scholarship award in her name to honor her. The Sharon Lustbader Scholarship is available for Midwood seniors. The best creative writing piece is awarded $250 and will be published in the Broome Street Review, according to http://broomestreetreview.blogspot.com/2011/09/sharon-lustbader-scholarship.html.
Walsh, Kaufman, and Palomeque all plan on applying to the scholarship program.
“I will participate in the scholarship,” said Gas. “Money for college is always a good thing.”
There were three Sharon Lustbader Scholarship award ceremonies so far. Ms. Lustbader attended the first award ceremony at LaGuardia High School with her husband.
“It was the best professional glory that I’ve experienced,” said Ms. Lustbader. “I was shocked.”
After retiring, Ms. Lustbader plans to relax and rest.
“I’m thinking of having a gathering of students from 1983 to now in June,” Ms. Lustbader said.