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#KnowYourPelicans: Monika Johnston
Posted 01/13/2017 10:00AM

Know Your Pelicans - Chris Rush

#KnowYourPelicans: Monika Johnston

January 13, 2017 — Dr. Bruce L. Dennis announced today that Ms. Johnston has been appointed Chair of the History Department beginning in the 2017-18 school year. She will succeed Erland Zygmuntowicz, who has served with distinction for the past twenty-five years and will resume full-time teaching.

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

It's too difficult to choose one thing. I love that Packer is incredibly generous and supportive of adult learning and professional growth. Through mechanisms like the in-house TALL Tuesday/Teacher Growth program and professional development grants, teachers have an opportunity to reflect on practice and access the resources they need to support our students.

I am also in awe of our students. Their energy, motivation, and sense of agency are an inspiration to me as both a teacher and a life-long learner.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

Seeing the look on my Middle School students' faces the first time they heard me do my "witch laugh" — and then all of us falling out in laughter together after they recovered from the shock — probably tops the list.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

One book that made a powerful impression on me, and is still among my favorites, is Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The first time I read it, I was in college and developing a more nuanced awareness of how I had to negotiate my identity through constructs of race, gender, and a myriad of other things that I couldn't control. The book resonated with me at a deep level then, and when I re-read it, it always serves to remind me that the struggle to be an authentic human being in an unjust, absurd world is both universal and particular.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

When I was in kindergarten, I participated in a PSA commercial which asked children from my neighborhood what they wanted to be when they grew up. I answered, "A Lady in the United States Army." Consequently, I was invited to the U.S Military Academy at West Point where I spent the day with members of the Women's Army Corps, was presented with a Pallas Athena medallion, and ate a "Sloppy Joe" lunch (in my honor) with the cadets.

Previous Pelicans:

Kindergarten Teacher Anne Montero

Upper School Science Teacher Alice Lurain

World Languages Teacher Su-Ling Huang

Upper School Art Teacher Eric Baylin

Preschool Teacher Lynnette Arthur

Middle School English Teacher Todd Johnson

Physical Education Teacher and Coach Rich Domanico

Food Services Member Ann Martinez

Lower School Librarian Chris Rush

Upper School Computer Science Teacher Louis Minsky '09

The Packer Collegiate Institute
170 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 250-0200
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