Inspiration at Long Beach High School

By: Emily Hulbert

According to About.com, Women’s History Month is a month long celebration in March that recognizes the historical, cultural, and societal contributions women have made to the world. During the 1960’s and 70’s, most women felt that the teaching of history to young students was incomplete because there was nothing about women. In 1978, the Education Task Force of Sonoma County California began their own “Women’s Week Celebration”. The response was so great that 3 years after California started the week long celebration, the United States Congress passed a law creating a National Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress passed another law designating the whole month of March as Women’s History Month. Every March since, people all over America remember the significant roles ordinary women have played in the shaping of our history.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I have interviewed some of Long Beach High School’s most notable women: Dr. Newman, Ms. Bankey, Ms. D’Andrea, Ms. Harvey, Ms. Levin, and Ms. O’Shea. It was very interesting to learn about the lives of these women, including what types of struggles they may have faced. I believe that each of these women represent how far America has come regarding the position of women.

Dr. Newman: Dr. Newman is the only female administrator at Long Beach High School.

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

Believe it or not, I had a hard time with that question, because I don’t think that I had one experience that stands out as my most memorable experience. I think that when I look back on my high school experience my most memorable experiences are probably a lot of the same thing everyone else would say. It’s a combination of those teachers that really made a difference, the classes that I really enjoyed, and my friends. I don’t have a single experience that stands out as the most memorable, but I look back at each part collectively as the memorable part of my high school experience.

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

I definitely had an idea that I wanted to become a teacher in the 7th grade because of an incredible social studies teacher I had. I loved his class and remember how he made every student feel that they were the most important student in the world. He made the classroom so exciting that you could not wait to get there. I wanted to be that type of teacher and person. When I was in college I was a history major, and I was toying with the idea of becoming a lawyer or teacher. Later in my college experience, I really explored what the practicalities were for both fields. Teaching gave me that interactive human experience that I was looking for out of my career.

Since it is Women’s History Month, is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

Yes. Developing your communication skills is essential to achieving your goals. I took a class in communications and there is a book called People Skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolve conflicts by Robert Bolton that is timeless. It teaches you how to be assertive without being aggressive, passive aggressive or holding back your thoughts or feelings. This book is helpful for anyone of any age. You can read it right now as a high school student, and then revisit it in college or a job interview. The book picks apart the communication skills that you have now and very specifically gives you examples of how you can say things in different ways. I would really recommend to any women or girl reading this article that developing good communications skills will get you as far as you want to go in whatever field you want to go into. Without these skills, I think that we’re at a little bit of a disadvantage. I’m not sure that we’re brought up to communicate in the same way that men are. I think men are often taught to assert themselves and I’m not sure that women are. I think that this is part of the reason why girls behave differently than boys.

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

I think that it was a limitation when I was going for my first administrative job. I was looking for my first administration job as a high school vice principal in 1997, and it doesn’t sound like it was so long ago but times were really different. Back then there were far fewer female high school administrators than there are now. Thankfully, today in 2015, there are a lot more of us out there. Women dominate elementary administration, and central office is equally mixed men and women, but high schools have a lot of male administrators or at least back then the men dominated the field. At that time, I felt like it was a limitation. I remember being in an interview in which I made a statement  along the lines of if you have any reservations about me as a candidate; I would love to talk about them.

After, one of the male administrators on the committee came right out and said “You don’t look like a high school administrator. Your young, female, and don’t really fit the profile. How are you going to do this job?  I don’t really see the fit.” My response probably consisted of the different attributes I had that would qualify me for the job. After the interview ended, I got a job at another district as an assistant principal of a high school. About two years later, I was on a Hofstra panel. The audience was filled with students who were looking to go into the administrative field. Lo and behold, the man from my previous interview was on the panel too. As we were sitting lined up with the chairs all in a row, the man leans back, gets my attention, and he said I’m really sorry. You’re doing an outstanding job and I made a big mistake. It was a reality back then that being female was a bit of a barrier in secondary administration. I don’t feel that way now at all.

After I took eleven years off to stay home and raise my kids, I started to try to get back into the workforce. Being a female administrator of a high school was not uncommon. I didn’t feel that it was ever part of the interview. I actually felt that being female was an asset. On some interviews, I felt that they were looking for a female administrator because she can better address the needs of female students. Because I had that nice gap in time, I really got to see the interview process through the lens of 1997 and 2011. It was an asset in 2011, which is probably why there are more female administrators now. It will be really interesting to see what things are like in another eleven years.

How would you describe yourself as a leader?

I would describe myself as a leader as someone who is caring towards all people, a good decision maker, collaborative, and a good communicator. I think I have good vision and good analytic skills that I can look at a big picture of a high school program and see where it needs to go and what we need  to do to get there. I think I am a planner and planning is essential when you have vision of where you want to go. Ultimately, I am telling you all the qualities I have that I think make me a good administrator, but what people tell me time and time again is that I am a very good listener. I follow through on the things that I say I am going to do. One of the things that make me a good leader is that I do what I need to do to make sure that everybody, students and faculty, is waking up in the morning and coming to a place where they are cared about. It is really important that everyone feels comfortable. You spend more time in school than you do at home. I want people to have a good academic, social, and emotional experience here.

Congratulations on getting Tenure! How do you see yourself making a change at Long Beach High School and what type of impact would you like to make on the school?

Thank you. I would like to make every student and parent feel like my 7th grade teacher made me feel: like he or she was the most important person in the building. In terms of a larger impact, some of my goals are to put systems in place that streamline processes here and establish protocols for how things are done. I don’t like when we don’t have procedures in place for how things are done, most procedures have to work and if they don’t work they need to be changed. I would like to see our academic program that we offer as purposeful. We also want to strengthen our electives so we can offer our students a wide variety of choices. I really have big goals in terms of the program that we offer here and the processes that make this place operate on a daily basis. Those are two areas that I see myself having an impact on: structure, system processes, and the program. I value being highly organized and like to run a tight ship. You have to put structures in place, communicate, and articulate well for things to actually happen.

Ms. Bankey in 1986

Ms. Bankey in 1986

Ms. Bankey: 9th grade Biology Teacher and Theory of Knowledge 2 Teacher

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

Most memorable was playing basketball at Rochester High School in Rochester, Michigan.  We had a .500 record but were hot at the end of the year and played in the state semi-finals.  So fun and exciting! My second most memorable was dissecting a cat for a year in Anatomy and Physiology!

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

I always admired my teachers and wanted to be like them.  People always discouraged me from being a teacher, but I _MG_6544believed it was my true calling.  Science, humor and kids work well together for me.

Since it is Women’s History Month, Is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

Never let anyone define who you are.  You are you.  Just be your best you.   Teach people how you want to be treated and don’t accept anything less.  Know what you want, create a plan to get it and then do the hard work.  There are no short cuts!

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

I remember playing summer softball in 1978.  We received neither uniforms nor hats.  Our parents bought matching yellow tee shirts for us.  The boy’s baseball team of the same grade received pants, caps and uniform shirts.  When the boys won their championship, the players received trophies.  When we won the championship we received little blue ribbons.  That made me angry and I felt that was unfair.  Title 9 really provided many wonderful opportunities for women in education and athletics that did not exist before.

What was your favorite part about playing basketball at Hofstra? How tall are you?

Without a doubt, the best part of playing basketball at Hofstra University was being part of a team.  There is nothing quite like it.  You spend hours a day working so hard toward a goal with your teammates and they end up being your family.  The second best part of it was being able to compete on a daily basis at a high level.  It feels great to excel at something and to continuously challenge yourself to better.  I am 6 ‘ 1”. I have always been tall and I like the view from up here!

Ms. D'Andrea in high school

Ms. D’Andrea in high school

Ms. D’Andrea: Geometry and Algebra 2 Trigonometry Teacher

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

My most memorable experience from high school was making the Lacrosse team, after never having played before.  Holy Trinity High School offered a few training sessions to teach us, and I was able to pick it up very quickly.  Playing on my high school’s lacrosse team was an amazing experience; I absolutely loved it.  I was recruited by MIT to play lacrosse, and played there during my college career.IMG_3903

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

After graduating college, I pursued a career in finance, and quickly realized how unfulfilled I felt in my day-to-day job.  I was not making a real difference in other people’s lives, and so, at age 25, I decided to seek a more rewarding and worthwhile avenue.  I have always loved mathematics.  I thrive on solving the puzzles that each math or science problem presents.  I felt there was nothing more gratifying than to pass my excitement on to students.

Since it is Women’s History Month, Is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

Go into the world with fortitude!  There will be obstacles along the way, but always stay strong to overcome.  You can achieve anything you want in life. Go for it!

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

I have never felt that being a female was a limitation.  Being a female strong in math and science gave me the opportunity to pursue a college education far above what I expected.  I knew I could achieve all that I desired due to the encouragement of my family and teachers.

Besides math, is there another subject that you would be interested to teach? Why?

Math and science often go hand in hand. At least, they did so for me.  My favorite science was always physics, and so I also obtained a teaching certification in Physics.  I would love to be given the opportunity to teach it one day!  Physics is the study of interactions of energy, and we encounter these interactions in our daily lives.  I think it would be so cool to educate students about these day to day examples, and how they obey the laws of physics. Also, it is the science that requires the most mathematical computation!  I’ve always thought of Physics as math with a story.

_S8A1561Mrs. Harvey:  An Art Teacher

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

My most memorable high school experience would be performing in the high school musicals.  It was so much fun.  I loved the practices and performing on stage in front of a huge audience. It gave me great self-confidence.

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

I knew I wanted to become a teacher in elementary school.  I loved going to art and being able to express myself. I’ve also always loved working with children and making connections with them. I think it’s important to get to know students on a personal level.

Since it is Women’s History Month, Is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

One of my favorite quotes is “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I feel this applies to all students trying to reach their goals. If you work hard, you can achieve anything.

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

Yes, as a female, I have seen both limitations and advantages. One experience which encompasses both was the opportunity to play lacrosse.  My friends and I saw the inequality of only having a boys’ lacrosse team and we stood up and spoke out and started the first Varsity girls’ lacrosse team at Long Beach High School.  I later became team captain and brought my leadership and lacrosse skills to a division I college (Fairfield University) which at the time was building their women’s lacrosse program. I benefited from the program by learning how to collaborate and set goals while having fun and staying in shape.   I think it’s important for students to take advantage of all the programs and sports we have available here at Long Beach High School.  You never know where something new might take you.

If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

This is such a hard question! I admire so many artists’ work for so many different reasons.  I love French impressionism and in particular the work of Edgar Degas, especially his paintings of ballet dancers.  I also love the ballet and think it is amazing how he was able to study and capture a moment in time with his paintings before photography was popular. He was truly a talented artist and the opportunity to meet him would be amazing.

IMG_4088Ms. Levin: AP World History, Theory of Knowledge 1, and Theory of Knowledge 2 Teacher

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

That’s a really difficult question, but I’d have to say my class trip to Italy.  I was able to see all of the amazing sites in Rome and Florence, and share that experience with my friends. And of course I developed my love of gelato there.

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

I don’t know if I can pinpoint an exact age, but I would say it was probably my sophomore/junior year in college.

Since it is Women’s History Month, is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

I would say to make sure they don’t undervalue themselves. They should go for everything they want.

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

I feel lucky that I really can’t think of a time where being a female hindered me in any way.

Where do you get you clothes? If you could describe your style in one word what would it be and why?

I get my clothes online on sites like modcloth, myhabit, and haute look, and also in regular stores like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom. I don’t know if I have a word to describe my style, but I know what I like when I see it, I guess with clothes and just about everything else.

Ms. OShea in high school

Ms. O’Shea in high school

Mrs. O’Shea: English 10H and IB English Year 1 Teacher

What was your most memorable High School Experience?

Honestly, my most memorable high school experience is ridiculous, but it stands out in my memory quite vividly! I was in 9th grade in Latin class, and I dropped my pencil. I leaned over the side of the desk to pick it up and the whole desk started to tip over! Luckily, the boy who was sitting next to me saw what was happening, and he picked up the entire desk with me in it and set me back down before I fell. He saved me from being really embarrassed!

At what age did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?IMG_4055

I knew I wanted to be a teacher in eleventh grade when I had the most wonderful English teacher named Mrs. Mills. She was so passionate about literature, and she made learning exciting. I couldn’t wait to go to her class each day, and I wanted to be just like her!

Since it is Women’s History Month, Is there any advice you would give to female students to help them achieve their goals?

My advice to my female students (and to my male students, too, actually!) is that they should not be afraid to be themselves. Don’t try to impress anyone by changing. Also, take time every day to be a little bit silly. Laugh at yourself! Enjoy your life!

In the Spirit of Women’s History Month, was there ever a time that you felt that being a female could have been a limitation or perhaps an asset to achieving your goal?

I have never felt limited because I am a woman. I had strong female role models when I was a teenager, and so I grew up with the attitude that I could accomplish any goal I set for myself.

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. It’s about a man who struggles between doing what his heart desires and what society expects him to do. I highly recommend it!

Thank you to all the teachers for allowing The Tide to interview you and be part of this article.

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