The Dragon Staff | April 17, 2019
Many d.tech members were stunned and confused by the sudden departure of freshman English teacher and Yearbook advisor Teri Hu. While staff and students alike figure out how to fill all of the gaps where she once was, there are many who fondly remember all of the things that made her irreplaceable.
One of her freshman English students, Maxwell Kwan, explains that her class was one of his favorites “because we would talk about controversial issues. She did it in a fun way where we could read about [the topic] and make our own opinion.” Many echo Kwan’s love for the entertaining and engaging nature of Hu’s class. “Her way of teaching was just more fun,” explains freshman Ryan Quisol. “I would look forward to her class because she would get involved with the students. She kind of spiced it up for us.”
Freshman Anna Solis-Rodriguez comments on how the unique environment and teaching style Hu had allowed her and her classmates to “express ourselves in our own way.” Solis-Rodriguez continues that she is most going to miss “how we felt really open to be ourselves and we didn’t really have to hold back.” Freshman Holden Rodgers adds that “the [vocabulary] tests were a lot of fun because you could write about basically anything as long as you put the words in.” Student Culture Coordinator Henry Lonnemann agrees that students received a unique learning experience saying, “She brought a more hands on learning experience for her freshman students, which is generally not something you would expect from an English class.”
The school has found a temporary substitute to teach freshman English while they search for a long term replacement. As for her @d.tech, Technical Support Specialist Paul Cerra has stepped up to help out. “We are just really lucky that Paul felt such a strong commitment to the kids,” Executive Director Ken Montgomery explains. “He didn’t just want a sub in there, he wanted them to still have an @d.tech.” Cerra is very positive about his newfound position as an @d.tech advisor. He stated “I look forward to seeing these guys every morning. I get up a little earlier to make sure I’m here and available for them.”
Hu’s departure was “definitely shocking,” says Jane Wang, junior and Co-Editor in Chief of Yearbook. “On the first day [Hu was gone] I felt numb, I guess.” Hu’s resignation didn’t fully hit Wang until she had time to process it a day later on Saturday, when she was talking with her sister. “It just kind of hit me that she was gone, and we didn’t have her anymore… I just started crying because all of a sudden I just got really upset…she was one of my favorite teachers.” Junior Zach Nemirovsky was also surprised and disappointed in her rushed retirement from d.tech. “I wish that she had said a little bit in advance because we all would have wanted to say bye,” continues Nemirovsky, “but she doesn’t really like hugs so we understand.”
For the many students who loved Hu’s English classes, Hu’s mid year departure was a difficult transition. Cerra notes that Hu’s absence was especially hard for those who are really close to her. However, he adds that “they’ve reacted as well as can be expected in these circumstances. They’re resilient.” Though it can be highly disruptive when a teacher leaves mid year, Kwan explained that Hu “made sure we finished everything and she graded everything for us [before she left,” making him feel like his learning wasn’t as disrupted as it could have been. However, as freshman Taliyah Huang mentioned, she feels like she “didn’t really have to hold back [in Hu’s class]. Now we kind of do because a lot of the subs are traditional teachers so they’re not really letting us be who we are.”
In addition to teaching freshman English classes, Hu was also the advisor for Yearbook. Though the team has been mostly been student run this year, Hu was previously available to consult with when needed, active in editing copywriting, and was a stabilizing presence. “I really appreciated that she respected us as leaders, and that she really saw the independence that Yearbook [had]… she didn’t control ever single aspect, but jumped in when it was necessary,” junior and Yearbook Section Editor Isabelle Yu says. For now, English teacher and journalism advisor Lessley Anderson has agreed to take on Hu’s former role as Yearbook advisor. The team is on track for completion of this year’s yearbook, but is still figuring out how and if they will have their final d.lab class of the year, and are searching for an advisor replacement for next year.
As much as Hu, who did not respond to requests for an interview, is remembered as a teacher and advisor, she is also remembered as a unique role model. “She loved bunnies. She loved noodles, garlic noodles, and chicken, and it was just funny when she talked about these things, all these small things that she liked.” Wang continues, “She was just a fun person to be around and a really great mentor…I felt like I could talk to her about anything.” Nemirovsky also appreciated Hu’s mentorship, revealing that Hu “gave me some self worth because I was coming from a school where it was extremely competitive, and being on Yearbook she really opened my eyes to how much I was valued and wanted as a writer,” adding that “she was a fantastic person to talk to as well.”
Many in the d.tech community can agree that Teri Hu “was more than just a teacher,” as Nemirovsky says. As such, Nemirovsky voices a feeling that many students share, and hope the English teacher and Yearbook advisor knows: “We miss you Teri.”