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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIStory: Who Were Our Teachers as Students?

Three WIS teachers interviewed about their childhoods, from left to right: Natalie Denney, aged 17, before senior prom; Tony Godwin’s English postgrad ID; Sushmita Vargo in a 1975 passport picture. (Courtesy of Natalie Denney, Tony Godwin and Sushmita Vargo)

Dateline interviewed three WIS teachers, Natalie Denney, Tony Godwin, and Sushmita Vargo, about their childhoods. Here are their answers to 10 of the questions.

What archetype most closely describes your teenage self?
NATALIE DENNEY (D): “The romantic. I wanted to travel the world and ride the rails.”
TONY GODWIN (G): “The opposite of me now. Potentially nerdy, very sporty.”
SUSHMITA VARGO (V): “You’re making me say it; I was one of those ditzy persons.”

What is one thing you hated about being a student?
D: “Getting up early, for sure. And the lack of freedom.”
G: “The attitude of the teachers, it was punitive.”
V: “I didn’t like that they boxed you. Children grow.”

Could you describe a time when you got in trouble?
D: “When I was younger, I was a troublemaker, because I just wouldn’t do anything that reeked of standardized tests… I was a little bit mouthy. I was a little arrogant with one of my English teachers; she spelled things wrong and I let her know.”
G: “You’ve got to be caught to get in trouble. But no, not really. The consequences of being rebellious were too awful. But in terms of, ‘Did I do my homework?’ ‘Did I study hard?’ ‘Did I get things on time?’ ‘Was it my best work?’ And mostly yes, but you know, did I? Did I study early enough to be successful? Not really. I could cram like anybody the night before.
V: “Yeah, I did get in trouble. And it is very, very shameful. I had a textbook, and my romance novel inside. And in the quad, they put a chair and I had to stand with my hands up. And your hands get tired, and you get embarrassed to death. I think I was in 10th grade. I couldn’t stop laughing.”

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On a scale of 1-10, how much did you enjoy going to school?
D: “Eight, maybe? Kinda high? I got a lot of good feedback from it.”
G: “Am I allowed negative numbers? Yeah, no, I didn’t enjoy it. My recollection is that it was something you did because you had to do it.”
V: “I really did enjoy it. I would say nine?”

What profession did you want to go into growing up?
D: “I wanted to be a hobo. I wanted to be a person without a home, just traveling. I would have loved to play guitar for money and go buy some food and then keep going.”
G: “I thought I’d be an engineer, just like my dear old dad. I joined the company when I was 21, and bought some suits, cut my hair and became an engineer.””
V: “I wanted to be a mom. My mom was really upset with me. And the question was why? ‘Because,’ I said, ‘I want to boss my children around.”

What was your favorite subject(s) in high school?
D: “English for sure. I absolutely loved literature, like the written word.”
G: “I know this is going to be hard to believe. I really enjoyed art, history and geography.”
V: “I love geography. I liked chemistry. Because you know, it was natural systems.”

What is one thing you wish you had appreciated more in the moment of being a student?
D: “My teachers. I wish I had done a little more to thank them. And I wish I’d played a sport. It would have been better being the worst kid on a team than not being on one.”
G: “That would have necessitated opportunity, and there was none. But I couldn’t see that the grass was greener in the next field because the fences were too high.”
V: “Yes, there are some kids who are uniquely more brilliant, and other kids work hard. But you’re all in the same boat.”

How would you describe yourself as a teenager?
D: “Earnest. I was a really academic kid, very grade focused. And I was really into theater and stuff. I was not into science at all.”
G: “Introverted, subjugated and abused. If you grew up in the 60s in South London, it wasn’t exactly party time.”
V: “Awkward, because I thought that everybody was talking about me when nobody was.”

What were some of your favorite hobbies?
D: “The guitar. When I was much younger, I was always on the monkey bars. I definitely was a naturally athletic kid.”
G: “Aside from sport, I would say that I made a lot of models of anything from aircraft carriers to Roman soldiers.”
V: “Oh, I loved to read romance novels. And I did embroidery. What else? I chatted a lot. Talk, talk, talk.

Did you have any favorite musical artists or bands?
D: “I was lovingly teased for being 30 years too late in all of my music taste. Like Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan. But I did get really into Guns and Roses when I was in seventh grade.”
G: “In the late 60s, I started listening to a small transistor radio… a little brown cube thing. And you could pick up radio Caroline, for instance. I liked the British Invasion… I liked [Jimi] Hendrix.”
V: “In my older teens, we watched [music] on TV. I like everybody from the 80s, I really do. I like Wham and Duran Duran.”

By Tindra Jemsby

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Tindra Jemsby
Tindra Jemsby, 9/10 Journalism Class Editor

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