Sister Marlene Mucha
Woody Aunan teaches physics and advises the chess and ping-pong clubs at Sandpoint High School in Sandpoint, Idaho. In nominating him, Ben Lockwood ’08 recalls that “in the challenging teaching environment of an under-funded, overcrowded public high school where [only] one in four students goes on to college, Mr. Aunan garnered deep respect and admiration from his students.” His goal was to inspire “crinkles” in their foreheads—facial expressions that showed they were working hard to grasp a new idea. Lockwood especially appreciates his teacher’s patience and willingness to accept responsibility and offer after-school help whenever students were having particular trouble with a concept. He would rest only when the last students finally understood, their brows would “uncrinkle” and their views of the world would expand—and Mr. Aunan loved these “uncrinkles” most of all.
Jorge Camacho taught at Felix Varela Senior High School in Miami, Fla.—a school described by Jaime Botero ’08 as predominantly Hispanic and “better known by Marine recruiters than college admissions officers.” Botero knows Mr. Camacho as a teacher funny enough to require his students to carry a six-foot-tall bathroom pass, yet serious enough about education to pay for his chemistry lab equipment out of his own pocket. Botero writes that, were it not for Mr. Camacho’s lessons in academics and character, “I would not [have] enrolled in college … He has inspired me to seek enrollment in graduate school and pursue a course of study in education and public policy in hopes of bettering our public education system.” Though he’s moved on to Ransom Everglades School in Coral Gables, Fla., Mr. Camacho works toward the same goal: according to Botero, he is currently considering both producing a line of teaching videos and starting a career in politics.
At Holyoke Catholic High School in nearby Granby, Mass., Sister Marlene Mucha, S.S.J., holds every student to high standards of honesty and effort. But, says Pawel Z. Binczyk ’08, her strictness is tempered with humor, faith, “care and genuine love.” Sister Marlene prays for her students every day, but she also stands up for them, encouraging spirited discussion and helping to mediate during times of conflict and controversy. Binczyk remembers being challenged during “The Marlene Show” (as students called her class) to explore opposing viewpoints on banned books and to write a 30-page senior thesis. “This course catapulted my interest in literature,” he writes; he credits it, and Sister Marlene, for starting him down the path of a writer and literary scholar.