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Ann Faccenda, Skyline Middle School
I don’t think I ever really thought of Ms. Faccenda as a teacher, more along the lines of a wise mother figure. The first time I had her as a real teacher was in 8th grade, when I had her for English. Not only did she teach English, but she was also involved in the drama club and the school newspaper. I can remember a lot of things that have happened in my life and Ms. Faccenda is one of the people I will never forget.
Being in 6th grade is hard enough when you’re 5’7”, weigh 80lbs, and have a face full of zits. Add special education math to it and your self consciousness level rises. I guess it made me feel dumb in a way because of the fact that they called it special education, which made you feel sort of disconnected from the other students, who were in the regular math classes, and some in pre-al already. I was never good at math, so I guess it would help me to be in a class that can give you one-on-one help.
Towards the end of the year, our teacher had to take a sick leave, and we were left with a substitute. Mrs. Faccenda took over for the last three or four months of the school year as the special education math teacher. I remember that she always had books on this table in the back of the room and whenever I finished an assignment I’d go over there and grab a vintage copy of Disney Adventure Magazine. She knew me as a creative mind, one time telling me to pay attention, instead of writing lyrics on my palm. Ms. Faccenda would talk to you and listen. I would tell her stories about my family and talk to her about American Idol and she’d talk about her sons sometimes and it was a great time.
I remember wondering if Ms. Faccenda would be at Skyline the next year, and to my delight, she was. She taught an exploratory that dealt with English Lit, a class she wanted to teach. Even though I didn’t have class with her, I still snuck in for lunch. I would take my friends with me. She soon became the favorite of my friend, Tyler, and my twin brother, Travis. We would joke around and tell stories and trudge to our next class after lunch ended.
I was in the play since I arrived at Skyline. 2009’s play was Aladdin. I played a guard, along with my brother. The acting coach was Ms. Faccenda, who had read everything by Shakespeare. She encouraged us to do our best and that play got thunderous applause all three nights.
8th grade is the year I remember the most, and I never knew why. That was the year I had Ms. Faccenda as an English teacher. To tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s anyone better than her to teach the subject. She made English my favorite subject. She made it fun.
One of the first things we did was study Edgar Allan Poe, the famous macabre poet. She had us read The Raven and The Tell-Tale Heart. We did this in October, in a dark classroom, flashlights used to see the writing in the books. It was one of my favorite lessons of all time. She made me get into Poe by showing us a video on his life, interpreting The Raven. It was all so fun and I’d learn it again one million times.
Another thing I can remember doing is an essay called Who am I? We wrote these essays that tell stories and details about us, but we don’t say that it’s us, and the other students had to guess and figure out who it is. It was a really interesting lesson and really fun. It showed you how much you knew about your fellow students. I remember her taking mine and wanting to publish it in some way. I never really though it was good enough to be published or that I was that good of a writer, but she thought it was really good. That made me feel like I had a talent and that I actually accomplished something. I don’t remember getting that essay back.
Joining the Jaguar Journal, Skylines school newspaper, was something I wanted to do. I started off as the photographer and I got to edit and choose which pictures went into the paper. I remember Ms. Faccenda telling me to take pictures of everything, like the bulletin boards outside of the English classrooms, which I thought was a little boring. By the end of the year I had become accustomed to going in every couple of days after school and hanging around, sometimes just going off to walk around the school. The Jaguar Journal made me want to become a music journalist. It also made me want to stay for all the snacks Ms. Faccenda put out for us. She was a great editor-in-chief and always fun to talk to.
Ms. Faccenda did this lesson toward February where we take things that happened the previous year in pop culture and put them into the stanzas of We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel. She made sure they fit the rhythm and made sense. Everyone was super into it. When we performed them, we filmed them and watched them. And even though I was always self conscious in middle school, I could watch that video over again just one more time around.
The last books we read in her class were Flowers for Algernon, which went over amazingly. She ran out of copies because she had sold the story so well and every student at Skyline Middle School wanted to read about Charly Gordon and his mouse, Algernon. The other book we read was The Diary of Anne Frank, which didn’t really go down as well as Algernon did. We read it and went to the Holocaust Museum, which opened a lot of peoples eyes, especially after reading about Anne Frank.
Ms. Faccenda is a teacher I miss. She was more a friend than anything else. She knew all of us and we knew her. Her class was one of the main reasons I didn’t want to leave Skyline and one of the reasons why I’d go back. Now, I could’ve written about any teacher. I could’ve done a teacher that makes me laugh or a teacher that was chill, but I choose to do it on a teacher who influenced me more than any other teacher did and that teacher is Ann Faccenda. I learned so much and now I miss what I had. She was truly the best teacher I’ve had. Without her, I’d still feel like an outsider, but after doing everything, the Who am I essay, the Poe lessons, the newspaper, and the play, I felt like I had talent, and without Mrs. Faccenda, who supported everything my friends and I did, and that’s what a good teacher does. Anne Faccenda wasn’t a good teacher, she was a great one, and an even better person.