Thank You, Ms. Zaidi

Margaret Lin, News Editor

Despite appearing to be just another one of the many burgundy classroom doors at AHS, there is one door tucked comfortably in D Hall, just barely shielded from the traffic of L Row. Nondescript on the exterior, but plastered with a colorful collage of photos on the interior, this particular door separates the rest of the school from none other than Ms. Nicole Zaidi’s classroom.

Much like her classroom door, Ms. Zaidi looks the picture of an English teacher at first glance: collected, reserved, and authoritative… that is, until she starts speaking, at which point one realizes she’s quite humorous, occasionally scatterbrained, and constantly brimming with ideas. Her refreshing personality is a breath of fresh air, particularly for her 5th period AP English Language class of sleep-deprived juniors.

However, in Ms. Zaidi’s class, the post-lunch lull does not exist; every hour in her classroom is spent productively improving some aspect of one’s existing capabilities. Despite the fast pace and inherent challenge of her class, her students are rarely discontented, if at all (maybe a little stressed, but never discontented) for perhaps this reason: Ms. Zaidi deconstructs the limited and vague into easily understandable fragments for her students, guiding them out of a fog of confusion. Creating clear instructions where there were none, Ms. Zaidi simplifies AP English (a big, scary, abstract thing) to its basic components with apparent ease. This is immediately reflected in her students’ work; from the structure of their compositions to even their choices in diction, there are traces aplenty of Ms. Zaidi in their writing. The students witness their improvement as well. Whatever grievances they may have are forgotten as they relish in their growth.

Not only is Ms. Zaidi wonderful in her capacity as an English teacher, she is also arguably one of the most fascinating people on campus. She often recounts anecdotes from her youth and early adulthood, much to the enjoyment of her students. Without a doubt, she’s lived her life to the fullest; her students now know she was the lead singer of a band (that might’ve made it big) and could have gone to the Juilliard School as a flutist, among her myriad of talents. They also know she’s genuinely funny (her occasional exclamations of “big brain” never fail to make them laugh, her “dead Zaidi” scenario encapsulating the post hoc fallacy had them in tears), internalizes what she reads (she threw out her television after reading Walden), and is undeterrable when infused with purpose (in adolescence, she endeavored on a mission to safeguard the integrity of her neighborhood and emerged victorious), just a few of her many admirable traits.

Prior to experiencing her class, many may have found English thoroughly unenjoyable, but Ms. Zaidi shatters that notion by assisting her students in realizing English can be quite fun when they understand what they’re doing and have a person to connect with; unexpectedly, Ms. Zaidi makes English her students’ favorite period of the day, as she’s done for this contributor.