Honoring our ‘Grade-A’ teachers

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Northwood is full of hardworking, dedicated teachers, but two stand-out teachers this year were Jennifer Petrosian and Philemon Roh, the two recipients of the Teacher of Excellence award.

Petrosian is a Humanities 9 and 10 English teacher and one of five education specialists who service over 100 Northwood students with individualized education plans.

“When I was told the news at the staff development meeting, I was shocked,” Petrosian said. “Because of the caliber of teachers that work here, to be highlighted as a Teacher of Excellence is humbling.”

Petrosian aids students by talking to them about problems they are facing, such as a hard class, and helping them address the issues.

“My role allows me to advocate for kids who may not be at a place where they can advocate for themselves,” Petrosian said. “More importantly I can teach them how to advocate for themselves.”

In the future, Petrosian hopes that the stigma of having special education services will be broken down.

“It doesn’t have to do with how smart you are,” Petrosian said. “It just means that there is something that doesn’t allow them to access their education whether that’s anxiety, reading comprehension, depression or a learning disability.”

With a doctorate degree in English, Roh teaches Humanities 9 and Critical Theory in the Forensics Core Program.

“I’m grateful, no doubt, and humbled that the school community recognized me, but I feel that most of the time, I’m just running around, barely keeping things together,” Roh said. “So in many ways, this is a recognition of the school community, from the students, teachers and staff, to the parents and families, because without them and their willingness to support me, this would have never happened.”

For Roh, witnessing and being a part of his students’ intellectual and personal growth is the most rewarding part of teaching, and he hopes for everyone to value the beauty of humanities while applying lessons they discover in novels to their own lives.

“English teachers have a unique opportunity to not just teach books, but also teach life through books,” Roh said. “I believe there is a humanistic ethical value in teaching English because the humanities has the opportunity to teach humans how to be human.”