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Life Lessons and Literature: Celeste Tramontin Retires

Celeste Tramontin’s dedication to teaching transcended commitment to a career — for her, it was a vocation. 

An Upper School English teacher at Packer since 2004, Celeste was a holder of the Babbott Chair and a recent recipient of the PA Excellence in Teaching Award (see below). Celeste had a profound effect on her students and inspired a love of literature in anyone she shared a classroom with. Her cry of “Where’s the love?” galvanized thousands of students to form a lifelong habit of scribbling insights and questions in page margins, thereby demonstrating their engagement with (and love of!) the books they are reading. 

We will miss her myriad strengths — her kindness and commitment, compassion and intelligence, depth and breadth of giving, and her boundless enthusiasm and humor.

At an Upper School end-of-year celebration, students paid tribute to several beloved and longtime teachers. Below, Georgia Groome ’21 reflects on the impact Celeste made on her.  

Ms. Tramontin, it felt so a propos that you ended our English class this year with a presentation that you called ‘Life Lessons from Literature.’ You are a teacher who not only guides and informs your students in the arena of academia, but also in the arena of life. You began every class with the question, “On your fingers, from 1 - 10, how are you doing today?” Regardless of if we were feeling good or a bit fatigued, you leaned into our communal mood. Your syllabus and objectives didn’t change, but your approach and sensitivity did. You present yourself to your students as a trusted friend, which makes us all feel heard, honored, and respected. This is a rare style of teaching and a quality that you own.
 
With every book that we read, you encouraged us to sympathize with each of the characters, whether they were evil, wise, lost, or heroic. With this urging, we exercised all kinds of different mental muscles, and we learned all kinds of things about ourselves. And what a gift that was, Ms. Tramontin. We left your classroom not just as more empathetic readers, but as more empathetic humans. 
 
For many, you are the epitome of a Packer icon. It is impossible to quickly summarize the mark that you have made on me and the community at Packer. But if I were to try, I would say: your legacy will never fade to black. It will forever be a bar for those who follow in your wake. To say that I have been able to learn under the tutelage of Ms. Tramontin is such a point of pride for me. You have dramatically changed who I am as a writer, a reader, and a person. Your unwavering positivity and love will linger in the hearts and minds of all of those who have been lucky enough to know you—especially me. 
 
I believe that every student of yours learned more about who they are as a person than they did about the story arc in any book, and in my opinion, that is the best education that anybody could ask for. On my fingers today, I am showing you a solid 10. 
 
Good luck, Ms. Tramontin, and we love you so very much.
 

—Georgia Groome ’21

Celeste in her own words

After being awarded the PA Excellence in Teaching Award in 2019, Celeste reflected on her career as an educator. Take a look back at what she shared in a special edition of Know Your Pelicans

If you would like to submit well-wishes to Celeste, please send them to communications@packer.edu.

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