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An Interview with Michael Vergien by Alpana Dubey

April 19, 2010

It was the first day of school for my daughter who was starting sophomore year. Being a mom, I was anxious to hear from her about her teachers. All I heard from her was that her teachers were awesome.  Particularly, there was one teacher who dazzled her most and he was her English teacher. English was her last class of the day and still she would be all charged up for the class. So, recently, when I was asked to do a story on a teacher, Mr. Vergien’s name popped up first in my mind. And this is how it all started.  Here is what Mr. Vergien had to say when I asked him about his life as a teacher, as a person and as an educator.

Q: How long have you taught English II G/T at CHS?
A: I have been teaching English II GT for three years now.

Q: What do you like best about teaching G/T students?
A: I enjoy working with GT students because of their creative nature and because they enjoy experiencing the world and looking at it from different points of view. GT students generally have a stronger desire to learn for learning’s sake than other students.

Q: What have been the successes at CHS that you think relate to G/T students being in G/T English classes? (Examples would be increased SAT scores, more PSAT national merit scholars, etc.)
A: While many students, parents, and administrators like to point to SAT scores and National Merit numbers, I feel more accomplished when my students leave my class with broader world view and a greater capacity to tear apart and analyze what society and the world presents to them. I want my students to view the world objectively, and if they do hold ideological views, that they understand that other people can have differing yet valid beliefs. Being in a class where more students are more open to different viewpoints better enables them to grow as worldly scholars.

Q: What do you think are the best ways to challenge and motivate your G/T students for optimal learning?
A: I present my students with literature that is above their level. The topics, themes and language aren’t always readily accessible to high school sophomores, but I prefer to set the bar higher and make them work and struggle with the material and attempt to meet my expectations and, therefore, exceed what they or I thought they ever could accomplish. I have been surprised many times by my students as to what they are capable of. I try very hard to make my class relevant to students’ lives. My class doesn’t consist of me telling the students stuff. It’s more of an open forum designed to spark conversation. I can make students memorize facts all day long, but I feel they will become wiser and more knowledgeable if they find it themselves.

Q: What is something about you that no one knows?
A: I am the teacher I wish I had in high school. I was always bored in class and felt no real use f or what I was learning. Because I had this attitude, I never really tried and only did the bare minimum to get by. Not very many people know this about me.

Q: What are your interests/hobbies outside of school?
A: I enjoy being in nature, working in my garden, relaxing with my wife and two daughters outside of school.

Mr. Vergien has made learning lot of fun than an effort, for his students.  He cultivates the feelings and emotions through variety of reading materials and facilitates and motivates his students to write productively. He believes in knowledge and freedom of thoughts. He encourages his students to participate in open discussions which prepare them for the future.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. cgaregister permalink
    April 19, 2010 9:23 pm

    Great insight from a wonderful GT teacher! Thanks for sharing, Alpana. Reminds me of something I saw recently:

    “Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of the fire.” WB Yeats

  2. Communications permalink*
    July 7, 2010 7:43 pm

    I hope my incoming high schooler has the opportunity to be in Mr. Vergien’s class at some point during his years at CHS. He sounds like an engaging teacher who truly cares about his students’ learning.

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