Samantha Landers Hauptman '93samantha hauptman.JPG

It's hard to tell whether I love English and Mrs. Reissbaum taught it, or whether I loved Mrs. Reissbaum and therefore I loved the subject she taught. She was glamorous with her various hues of red lipstick, painted fingernails, high heels, and black Maserati, but she was so much more than that. Walking into her classroom made me feel comfortable. She was always happy to see us. Sharing pieces of herself endeared us to her, like naming her dog Shea after the stadium in New York. I looked forward to sharing my vocabulary homework, reading Shakespeare together, and diagramming sentences on the board. It was always a treat to watch a movie at the end of a unit. 

At the Hebrew Academy, finals were administered in the multi-purpose room. The cavernous room transformed from a cafeteria to a testing room with desks; the room gave gravitas to the occasion. When the high school gathered, the space buzzed. Last minute reviews of notes, not so silent prayers, and in my case the general feeling of dread. I was not glamorous in high school. I struggled with weight, awkward bangs, and a general feeling of not fitting in. As I sat in a desk situated close to a wall, Mrs. Reissbaum walked over and leaned down. She was not my teacher, but she was proctoring the exams. She whispered something personal that has carried me through until today. Her message opened my heart to believe in something that seemed foreign. Mrs. Reissbaum was  in touch with me, and it made the difference in my teenage world.

 

Sometimes when I am teaching, I try to channel my inner Mrs. Reissbaum. I can never match her glamour, but I pray to find the 'right'  words, and carry myself with her grace.

May her memory be a blessing.