Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rebecca Chernay

Ali was one of my all time favorite teachers. I had her in advanced freshman English and advanced American Lit junior year. She was such a dynamic presence and really helped me come into my own. One of my favorite moments from freshman year was watching the 1960s film version of Romeo & Juliet. During the balcony scene Ali yelled out "Just kiss her on the mouth already so she'll shut up!" She was ...hilarious and sarcastic and let us be ourselves. I have no doubt in my mind that her classes and my relationship with her as a student and an alumna are fundamental in my ability to finish college and grad school and become a librarian. I wish she knew what I was able to accomplish because of the skills she gave me. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her. I feel for the students who will never have her or be able to learn from her and for her children and her family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meghan DeSloover

I have always been interested in M(r)s. McKenna. Both as a Mrs. and ms., I found her to be, in both ways, equally interesting. I remember the fright & anticipation I had when I first knew she was going to be my english teacher. I knew she was hard, but I had also heard her laugh robustly on many occasion when walking by her classroom.
       My thoughts, fears,  and anticipations never ceased as long as I knew her. She was a force of presence, mind, and spirit. I found a kinship with her as a student, although I never felt even close to her level of intellect. I knew I could trust her, because I knew that she knew a lot.
       As I grew and became a mother, I realized how giving Ms. McKenna was, and that she must have been giving of herself constantly- to her students, her friends, and her children. It is a great gift to be given the honesty, humor, and depth of emotion & feeling that Ms. McKenna gave. Thank you, Ms. McKenna for sharing so much of yourself in your time.
Meghan DeSloover

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Emily (Krehlik) Buck

Ms. McKenna was my English teacher during the 2000-2001 school year at JDHS.  Like many of my former classmates have pointed out she had rigorous expectations of her students.  She expected nothing less than the best, and that always meant best thinking and communication.  One of my most vivid memories in her class was about a particular poetry assignment.  Each student had to choose a poem and "interpret" it for the class (this is what I remember at least).  I had chosen a poem that vividly described a scene in a Jamaican market.  I remember wanting to meet her expectations, and the only things coming to mind to interpret the poem were tie-dyes and rainsticks.  In my mixed-up teenage brain I orchestrated a rather wild dance routine (cheerleader fashion) that involved me wearing a tie-dye outfit and counting the ryhthm of the poem with shakes of a rain stick.  Writing about it now, I can still feel my fear and embarrassement as I shared my interpretation of the poem with the class.  As I finished, I was shocked to see Ms. McKenna laughing hysterically and asking me to come back and do the same presentation for a second period and be videotaped!  As a teacher myself, I often think of this particular memory and remember how I felt honored to be sharing my work with my teacher and classmates.  Ms. McKenna had a way of creating a safe community space for students to share their wild and thoughtful work.  At the beginning of every school year I think of the importance of creating a safe community to share in, and Ms. McKenna and her class community come to mind.  She was a phenomenal teacher of students, and she's continuign to teach me, now as a teacher myself.

-Emily (Krehlik) Buck

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Molly Krehlik

I was very lucky to have Ms. McKenna as a teacher. She inspired her students to become excellent writers and encouraged them to become their own unique person.  My favorite memories of Ms. McKenna actually occurred outside the classroom. A few friends and I used to go skiing after school at the Mendenhall Lake campground. Ms. McKenna was learning to skate ski at the same time that we were learning to skate ski. We would often run in to her at the lake and flounder around trying to improve our skate skiing skills. I always thought it was so neat to run into my English teacher skiing on the lake!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Steven LeClercq

Mrs. Mckenna, better known to me as Ms. Gray was my 8th grade and 11th grade english teacher in Conyers, GA where I attended Salem High School. She was a true inspiration. She ignited a fire in me for literature that still burns true to this day. Even more special to me was the friendship I had with Ms. Gray. She gave me the strength to perserve through tough times in high school. She always pushed me to do my best. 

I am happy to see she has touched so many lives. She is one of the most giving people I have ever met. I would not be the person I am today without knowing her. 

One of my favorite memories is a class project we had to do for Romeo and Juilet. Each group had to record their interpretation of the story. We thought it was pretty cool. Ms. Gray also lead the initiative for a school paper in 1994 that talked openly about sex, politics, and freedom of speech. It ultimately got shut down, but she always encouraged everyone to find their own voice. 

Remember everyone A lot is two words!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mike James

I just found this thank-you sonnet I wrote in 2003 for Ali. Maybe it was in exchange for a college recommendation, maybe it was a poetry assignment from Karina Reyes, or maybe it was a simple thank-you. It's sloppy, naturally, but I'd forgotten the gratitude I had for her teaching. Some honesty from an otherwise angsty JDHS senior.

Rest in peace, Mrs. McKenna.

A Sonnet for Ali McKenna – 4/30/03
Michael James, Senior Year, JDHS

She made us read two books in summer sun:
A first impression ‘scribed to me in full!
I did not think I’d like this English Hun;
All literature to me was damn near dull.

Ali McKenna splayed her liter’ry sword
With Steinbeck, Burroughs, Keroac, Thoreau,
With Love, and all Sarcasm she could afford,
And slayed us! Oh! The joys we came to know!

A guiding hand, a watchful wond’ring eye,
A calm and thoughtful spirit ope’d my brain.
Her honesty, perception, all defy
The duties of a teacher not insane.

The Universe is smiling at my friend;
It knows that she’ll be Teaching ‘til her end.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Margaret Pitts

I too am from the Miss Gray generation of Salem High School class of 1997 who were privileged to have her teach us in three grades-8th, 9th and 11th. we were her first students- she must have been only 24 years old. she left us after junior year to go to alaska. she was the most important/influential teacher i ever had and i think many of my classmates would say the same thing. we are grieving in georgia and would love to know if there will be any sort of memorial service here so we can pay our respects. 

there are too many memories to recall but one in particular was when we went to washington dc for a 9th grade school trip and she let me play my mixed tape over the bus stereo system. when violent femmes' "blister in the sun" came on she ran over and said "do you know what this song is about??" i said "no" and she let it keep playing. RIP Miss Gray.