Teacher Feature: Get to Know BHS’ New History Teachers

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Sagalchik and Whitfield, BHS’ new history teachers. Photo Courtesy: Whitfield (Left) and Sagalchik (Right).

Cecily Spence, Staff Writer

What hobbies do you enjoy outside of school?

Sagalchik: “I’ve skied since I was young, but I’m not particularly good at it. But I still love to go out there. I also enjoy other outdoor things like hiking- and being in Vermont, I feel like I’m definitely in the right place for it.”

Whitfield: “I love spending time outside. I was a ski instructor up at Jay Peak in the Northeast Kingdom, so that’s something I really like to do in the wintertime.” 

What was one of your favorite subjects in high school?

Sagalchik: “I like to talk a lot, and I think the class that offered me [that] the most was English. I really liked being able to read something and talk about it and hear what other people thought about something. [English] also gave me the most freedom to have ideas about the world.”

Whitfield: Science was actually one of my favorite subjects, although I did like history as well.”

What’s something about yourself you think people would find surprising?

Sagalchik: “Both of [my parents’] jobs are related to chess, so I grew up playing chess. I’m not super amazing at it, but I was around it a lot.” 

Whitfield:Well I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, and I’m 50, that’s something that surprises people- people always think that I’m younger.”

What’s your favorite season?

Sagalchik: “Winter, by far. I don’t handle the heat well and obviously, the winters with snow are the better ones. But I feel like things get very peaceful and a little slower in a good way.”

Whitfield:Winter. Absolutely. Although, there’s something to be said for all the seasons. I like being outside in the summertime, and especially here, because it’s so beautiful. And it’s not so hot like it can be in the city where I’m from.”

Sagalchik snowshoes with her partner. Photo Courtesy: Sagalchik

How are you feeling going into this year?

Sagalchik: “I’m mostly just really excited to be back in-person with students. I feel like you can’t really measure the difference it makes to have people be back together in a classroom and having that energy of being together again. I’m very grateful for it.” 

Whitfield: I really think all the experiences I’ve had before have led me to be really happy here and feel lucky.” 

What is one of your favorite books?

Sagalchik: Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. It talks about school in a way that’s not about the classroom: a way we could organize school as being part of life…And I find that really important in history, using history as a way to understand the world around us. 

Whitfield: The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is a book that I’ve always liked, not the easiest of books, but definitely a book that I have read several times. I do like this book as well, Lies My Teacher Told Me, because it sort of uncovers some things about history that I haven’t always talked about in my classes.”

If you could have any superpower what would it be?

Sagalchik: “Maybe teleportation. If we all were able to teleport, we would have a much more efficient and environmentally friendly transportation system.”

Whitfield: Probably teleportation because then I could very quickly go anywhere. I love to travel. It’s a big big passion of mine.”

What inspired you to become a teacher/ what’s your favorite thing about teaching? 

Sagalchik: I think of teaching as talking about interesting things with other people. I see teaching as a way to kind of facilitate that: trying to help people form communities.”

Whitfield: I have always enjoyed working with young people. Even when I was a young person I was a camp counselor…and also just sharing my understandings and providing things that are really different- a different perspective. And also being an African American man, a Black man, it’s important to have other folks see me in this position.”