By Anna Truong ’16 and Jose Chery ’16
Some Hornets just can’t stay away. Alumnae Ms. Melissa Pentangelo, from class of 1999, and Ms. Sara Zweig, of class 2007, have returned as English educators.
“I’ve always enjoyed reading,” said Ms. Zweig. “I think high school made it even more fun. I also love foreign languages, I was thinking about doing Spanish or French.”
Reminiscing about their high school days, Ms. Pentangelo and Ms. Zweig shared some of their most memorable experiences.
“I loved my Midwood experience. It was always intellectually stimulating and I was able to explore my interests in many activities,” said Ms. Zweig. “I remember that I was a director in SING. It was the first time I ever had to manage people. I also loved Latin and AP English. I loved how challenging and difficult it was.”
Ms. Pentangelo said, “Midwood still looks the same to me. It’s still overcrowded and there are still no air conditioners, but the annex wasn’t there.”
Ms. Zweig said her motivation for teaching is when her students are able to connect the type of analysis they do in class to their everyday lives. She wants her students to be able to see art and writing as something deliberate. Authors have millions of ways to word a sentence but they only choose one.
Ms. Pentangelo has stated that her motivation for this job was to inspire and be inspired. She wants to be able to create a safe space for her students’ imaginations to run wild.
Discovering one’s interests and pursuing a suitable career comes in many different ways. Ms. Zweig always knew she wanted to be a teacher, while Ms. Pentangelo’s first job out of college was as a production manager in the marketing department of a law school. It was substituting as a proctor for a test that inspired her to teach.
“Afterwards, a student thanked me and told me how calm I made her feel,” said Ms. Pentangelo. “She asked if I’ve ever thought about being a teacher, and it got my wheels working.”
Ms. Pentangelo stated how much she enjoys her job as a teacher more than her old job. She likes how personal the job is, and hopes that her students can keep her hip.
“I hope they keep me up with the new lingos like on fleek,” said Ms. Pentangelo.
As for Ms. Zweig, she always knew that she wanted to be a teacher.
“I’ve always looked up to my teacher,” she said. “My mom and my older sister are teachers so it runs in the family. I always saw then as role models.”
Coming back to high school and seeing your past educators as coworkers is strange in many aspects. Ms. Zweig, who was nervous and scared at first, found it to be nothing but professional and comfortable.
“It feels good being able to talk to many teachers,” she said. “For example, I have always loved Ms. Guida. I felt comfortable talking with her about classes and the curriculum. It was more natural than I thought it would be.”
Ms. Pentangelo has also been connecting with her past teachers. Although many of her former teachers have retired, she was still able to find Mr. Michael O’Neill, her Latin teacher and Global History teacher, now a dean, Mr. Richard Franzese.
“Mr.Franzese was a new teacher in the school when I had him,” said Ms. Pentangelo. “He gives great advice on how to deal with students.”
As alumni, these two new teachers shared some advice to the upcoming graduating class.
“College is a place to experiment and find out what you’re good at,” said Ms. Pentangelo. “So figure out what you’re good at and follow it.”
Ms. Zweig adds, “Your experience is going to be as fun and challenging as you make it. Try to go above and beyond and really take opportunities. Don’t be scared to try new things.”