Thank You, Ms. Bishop!

Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

“The first thing I learned about William Shakespeare was that he was a very dirty man. I remember clearly during my sixth period writing a series of vulgar sentences in the style of Shakespeare and all of the hilarity that ensued. Suddenly, the Elizabethan era poet, whose prose I was terrified of, became human. And that sudden shift in perspective was all due to my ninth grade English teacher, Ms. Neuwirth-Bishop, or just Ms. Bishop.

Located in C-112, Ms. Bishop teaches ninth grade English and Women’s Studies. To me, Ms. Bishop is one of the best Humanities teachers in general because she doesn’t just want her students to robotically read books and then write essays. She encourages them to fully immerse themselves into the writing, by asking them about what they would do if they were the main characters in the stories. Her discussion questions mostly consist of questions asking “you” directly, and all of her projects revolve around her students applying their skills and their knowledge to the themes from their reading. This is because Ms. Bishop clearly understands that all forms of English – short stories, novels, poetry – stems from an individual who wanted to share their emotions and thoughts and, to be truly engaged in their writing, the reader has to be vulnerable as well.

Ms. Bishop also showed this through how she did her community circle. The first thing you’ll notice about her classroom are that all the desks are pushed against the wall so the chairs face one another. Ms. Bishop is a true believer in the community circle. I know this because my class were the guinea pigs. And, from this “experiment” she concocted, I learned a valuable lesson about not being afraid to just talk. From my other experiences with other teachers and their community circles, the most in-depth we got were “on a scale from 1 to 5, rate your day.” And, although this isn’t exactly bad, it doesn’t exactly really engage people and encourage further discussion. In fact, this scaling method is a joke among some teachers who don’t do community circle.

However, Ms. Bishop took the idea of the community circle and upgraded it. Every week, the class would gather together to just sit and talk. Mostly, we would just talk about the themes present in the books and stories we read, and how we find these themes present in our everyday lives. This would lead to plenty of rants and emotional moments as we would explain what themes were in our lives. Through this, not only did my classmates and I remember more about the themes in the books as well as what happened, but we learned that great art like Of Mice and Men and the Greek myths are important because they still speak to us to this day, and their lessons and themes still apply to everyone.

Ms. Bishop used the community circle as a learning tool to improve our English grade and to also let us rant and speak up. She made the circle a safe haven – a place where you could cry, vent or cheer, and no one would judge. So whenever I hear someone disregard the community circle, I think that it’s a shame. Because as Ms. Bishop continues to prove, it could potentially change the viewpoints of so many.” —Kaitlin Lee, 10, Pow Wow, Staff Writer