Teacher Feature 2016: Mrs. Whalen


I first met Mrs. Whalen in my AP English Language class. I was nervous, since I’ve never taken an AP class before, but Mrs. Whalen was kind-hearted and welcoming. Now, halfway through the year I’m still in the class, even though a year earlier I thought it’d be too difficult for me. She’s a favorite among many students, and the reason is obvious if you have her as a teacher. Mrs. Whalen is friendly, funny, and easy to talk to.

Fortunately, I got to know Mrs. Whalen this year. She teaches AP language, English 9 Honors, Creative Writing, and Teen Literature. She said that she “always loved reading and writing short stories” when she was younger. She also said she loves watching her “students grow as writers and analytical thinkers.” Being a good writer and analytical thinker is especially important during the time AP exams come around. To many students, the AP exams are stressful and cause a lot of panic. Mrs. Whalen agrees: “For me, the most stressful time of year comes before the AP exam as anxiety levels rise for most students.” When asked what books she is reading right now, she said, “I am reading Jo Jo Moyes’s book After You. It’s the sequel to Me Before You. Both these books are great reads about a young woman who takes a job taking care of a quadriplegic and what happens as they get to know each other.”

In Mrs. Whalen’s class, we recently read The Great Gatsby. I’ve always loved to read, and reading the Gatsby just helped deepen my love for reading. I loved Nick’s inner monologue, and I loved going into class the next day and discussing the hidden messages in the book with Ms. Whalen and my classmates.

We’ve also presented in front of the class and conducted Socratic circles, wherein we discuss what we’ve read with each other. I’ve always had a fear of public speaking, but both those activities kicked me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow.

When people ask me what I want to do in the future, I always know it’ll be something that has to do with writing or English. I asked Mrs. Whalen about an English major, and she told me “…to become an English major, you should be a voracious reader and shoot to read at least one new book a week. I was most shocked at the sheer number of books I needed to read each week in college.”

If you know or have Mrs. Whalen as a teacher, you’re extremely lucky. She’s an amazing teacher that’s always there for her students. Her friendly and understanding nature makes everyone love her.