Point Borough Councilman Robert Sabosik came to school prepared.
He had re-read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Animal Farm by George Orwell so he could help Megan Fritz teach her Borough High School Language Arts classes on Wednesday as part of the school district's "Teacher for a Day" program.
The "teachers" were invited by the Point Pleasant Education Association (PPEA).
Interviewed in the classroom that afternoon, Sabosik said he was impressed with students and teachers alike.
"These young adults are great," he said. "They're very respectful, they want to learn, they have a real quest for knowledge. That shows the high quality of education in the schools."
Sabosik was one of many elected officials and business owners who participated in "Teacher for a Day."
Councilman Chris Leitner taught American History II at the high school, Councilwoman Toni DePaola taught seventh grade Math at Memorial Middle School, Councilman Mitch Remig taught first grade at Ocean Road School, Board of Education members and business owners also helped for the day (see original schedule at end of story. Sabosik said Councilman Chris Goss was unable to participate due to illness).
The teaching day for Sabosik and Fritz began at 7:10 a.m., which was an English Honors class on Animal Farm. Students had worked in small groups to write tests on Animal Farm and then took each other's tests. Then the tests go back to the groups that wrote them for grading and then the teacher checks them.
"Some of their questions about the book were really difficult," Sabosik said, adding he was impressed the students raised such challenging questions.
In the Wednesday afternoon class, the students were working in small groups on 30-question presentations on Gatsby.
Frtiz and Sabosik were going around the room discussing the book and their work with them.
Sabosik had found a photo of a yellow Rolls Royce from the 1920s that he was showing the students. He explained that a yellow Rolls was rare in those days. If an owner had the color, it meant he or she was wealthy, and that's part of the symbolism in how the car is used in a pivotal scene in the book. Some of the students were asking questions about the car.
In an English Honors class during a different period, they compared the similarities between Gatsby and "Winter Dreams," a short story by Fitzgerald.
Sabosik said that Fritz, who has been teaching for seven years, has inspired the students.
"She's an excellent teacher," he said, adding that, like other teachers, she puts in a lot of preparation time and work outside of classroom time that most people don't see.
"Anyone who thinks that teachers work 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. have no idea what they do," he said. "She gets here 6:30 a.m. and leaves around 4:30 or 5."
Sabosik said he had met with Fritz for 90 minutes the day before to discuss the curriculum and for her to approve his lesson plan.
Leitner said he was also impressed by the depth of the students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills in the American History II classes he helped teach at the high school.
He said students were giving the hypothetical that the U.S. had strong evidence that Iran was on the cusp of using a nuclear weapon and, using the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as historical context, they had to decide whether to use economic sanctions, ground forces or an atomic bomb.
Teacher Naomi Switzer played the role of the U.S. president, Leitner played the role of the vice president and the students, working in small groups, played the roles of their cabinet members and had to use historical facts to back up their arguments, Leitner said.
Students had, previously, done a lot of reading not only from history text books but also from newspaper articles, editorials, memoirs and other historical documents from that time period.
"They had to weigh the pros and cons of all of the options and come up with the best one," Leitner said. "Some of them were very clever and said first try sanctions. If that doesn't work, then use ground forces and, if that doesn't work, then use the bomb. That had not been one of the options we offered, but they were able to think outside the box and come up with that."
When asked if there was any pattern in the conclusions, Leitner said, "At first, some of them said, 'Nuke them.' But then when they really thought about all of the pros and cons, they were not necessarily saying that. I think some minds were changed. They took into consideration the impact on the troops, the radiation fallout and how it would effect people for so many years to come.
"The level of debate, analysis and discussion was really amazing," he said. "It was a lot of fun. And it gives you a good sense of the high quality of education the teachers are giving the students."
"I think they came away with the understanding that issues can look simple, but can be a lot more complicated when you look at it more closely," he said.
In a prepared statement, Lorraine Griffin, PPEA Vice President and Teacher for a Day Chairperson, said, “The Teacher for a Day program presents an excellent opportunity for members to see what today’s students and schools are all about.
"Education has changed greatly over the last decade, and it is important for the community to understand those changes in order to plan effectively for meeting the future needs of Point Pleasant students."
Guest teachers spent the day in the classroom and were able to experience a full day of school activities under the guidance of a cooperating teacher.
The guest teachers also developed their own lesson plans with the help of that teacher.
"The Point Pleasant Education Association thanks the participants of the Teacher for a Day program for setting aside valuable personal time to demonstrate their commitment to the teachers and students of this community," the statement said.
Teacher for a Day
Ocean Road/Grade 1
Ocean Road/Media Specialist
Ocean Road/Grade 2
Ocean Road/K-5 Art
Nellie Bennett/K-5 Phys Ed
Ocean First Bank
Board of Education
Nellie Bennet/Grade 1
Nellie Bennett/Grade 5
Board of Education
Board of Education
Memorial Middle/Life Skills
Memorial Middle/Math Grade 7
Memorial Middle/Social Studies Grade 6
Mary Ann Billerman
High School/US History I
High School/US History II
Ed and Jeff DeFelice
Car Dealer co-owners
High School/Business Law and AP Economics
High School/English Grades 9 and 10