I have two general comments. 1) Like any recommendations, you have to remember that these are often just one person's experience. In elementary school at Jefferson my son had a not-so-sought-after teacher and had a fabulous year. She wasn't very creative and her room wasn't full of visual appeal but for him she was just the ticket--steady, kind, quiet, etc. 2) I think the kids share a lot of the info among themselves at Berkeley High---who is easy, who's "da bomb", who's crazy, etc. and they are probably the best source for this info. --Sally
Tammer is an outstanding (very experienced) English teacher- she literally transforms the meek into the outspoken, motivates writing voices to blossom and really ignites the most apathetic teen creatures into loving the rich study of language arts. Try to get your kid to her and be sure to bring her flowers. My own kid was so lucky to have her! Jan
My daughter has Ms Friedman for Spanish 5/6 and LOVES her. She has to work because she is really learning Spanish. Ms. Friedman really talks only Spanish (from day one in the class), but she does it in such a way that the students really do understand her. My recollection is that in the beginning if they were really stuck, she would use English (IF they first asked, in Spanish, for help). My daughter is excited about Spanish this year and hopes to become fluent in it. She wants to go to Mexico to REALLY get it. It seems to me that Ms. Friedman is demanding, but she is also fair in her dealings with students. The class definitely holds my daughter's interest.
Ms. Plettner (History) is terrific and Ms. Crawford (English) is also very good, according to my daughter. I know more about Ms Plettner than Ms Crawford. Ms Plettner has a very deep respect for her students and makes her classes very interesting. She makes her students THINK, rather than just reguritate facts. So it will only work for students who want to think about things.
Amy Crawford -- US Literature, Womens Literature -- my choice for best English teacher at BHS. She's young, energetic, caring, relates well with the kids, non-structured, thought-provoking, and all around great teacher. My daughter had her for two years before she graduated; my son has her now.
Mr. Glimme (?) -- Chemistry -- my daughter loved him; she thought he was tough but fair and made Chemistry interesting and fun.
Mr. Teel -- History -- I wouldn't mind taking a history class from him. He mostly lectures, so you have to take lots of notes; he expects you to work on your own; is very demanding; is one of BHS's veteran teachers. Shelley
These are my daughter's recommendations: Mr. Richards (Ecoliteracy, Comparative Religion), Mr. Jegers (Math), Mr. Kopish (Biology), Mr. Ahlgren (English), Natasha Fuksman (Photo), Ms. Stahl (Art). My daughter said that she won't make decisions based on what anyone says, but maybe this will help other parents and kids. Toby
There is so much griping going on about the terrible teachers, but what do we do for those special teachers? I know I haven't given it a thought , but will sit down tonight and write a note to those teachers that have MADE MY SON'S EDUCATION at BHS exceptional - Mr. Dale for History, Mrs. Boley for Chemistry, Mrs. Herndon for Latin,Mr. Hamilton for Jazz, Ms. Wells for orchestra, etc. My son has only had a few teachers that he didn't click with, but he managed to transfer out and find great teachers in other periods. I am very pleased with his BHS education, although he thinks it should be more of a challenge. As to the science classes, every teacher we heard speak at back to school nights kept going over the available tutors at school and their hours. Each teacher was also available for help.
Off-the-top recommendations for teachers at BHS:
- Good: Spanish: Mr. Wolff
- English: Ms. Anderson
- African American Psychology, etc.: Ms. McClendon
- Physics: Mr. White
- Biology: Ms. Marantz (does she still teach this?)
- Math: Mr. Lee
- Calculus: Ms. Bodenhausen (very tough but good)
- Art: Ms. Stahl (wonderful metal sculptures)
- Journalism/English: Mr. Ayers
- P.E.: Ms. Carey
- English: Alan Miller
- Math: Mr. Fritzinger
- Latin: Ms. Herndon
- History: Mr. Teel
- English/French/Yearbook: Ms. Newman
- Dance: Ms. Singman
Use this info as you wish. With 150 teachers at BHS it's still only a drop in the bucket, but we need all the help we can get, bearing in mind that a personality that might drive one student crazy might be compatible with another...
I have had very little contact with BHS teachers. I think you are right about the kids deciding amongst themselves. I almost started WW III by questioning my son's schedule yesterday, and asking him about teachers. He was very offended that I would think of interfering. The ones I've heard him talk about are Mr. Dale - History - He had Mr. Dale for freshman and sophomore history and loves him - I like him too - he comes across as interested, witty, and engaging and he apparently grades "easy". There is a new Science(Biology) teacher Ms. Benke (something like that) - she worked at LBL for a while and I was very impressed with her - very enthusiastic and energetic. My son likes her too. She phoned each parent the 2nd week of school last year just to say hello and introduce herself!
Recommend: Bill Pratt, History (he's very good) Rick Ayers, English/Journalism (great if kid is independent thinker, I think not as structured as my kid could have used) Anneliese Williams for math (for future reference, if she returns from maternity leave...she's not on the fall list)
Mr. Harmon is a very good and dedicated math teacher as is Mr. Panasenko. My son has had wonderful teachers, all around better quality than those my daughters had when they went through Berkeley. I really think and thank the CAS program for that. I see other friends, whose children have gotten whomever/whatever was "thrown" at them these past two years ( those not in CAS). I am eternally grateful to CAS for providing steady, caring and dynamic teaching. The higher levels of classes that you can get your child/young adult into, the better they will do. For example, AP classes have a more focused group of students, therefore better teaching can happen. Advanced is better than regular ( as in biology and chemistry). I agree that the principal seems to be really trying to turn things around at Berkeley. We need to help any way we can.
I say to friends that BHS has teachers as good as any you would find at the best public or private schools in the country and also teachers who shouldn't be teaching at all. My oldest child just graduated, my second just finished ninth grade. They've had both kinds of teachers, but I think that parents and students have to be very attentive (and assertive) taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible to be involved in teacher selection. It's also been the case that a teacher who was a poor match for one of my children was great for another.
Among the best (challenged the kids, communicated with parents, available for help during lunch or after school, high expectations, fair, personally engaging, PLUS the kids learned a lot): Herndon (Latin); LeBlanc, Harmon (Math); Hansen, Glimme, Panesenko (Science, but I hear Ms. Hansen is leaving to be VP at Albany High); Bye, Theodore, Miller (English); Pratt (History); Washington (Afro-Haitian dance), Hamilton (Jazz bands, piano). -- Emily (6/99)