Plan B-minus: New Teacher Elizabeth Marymee Talks Shifting Gears from Biology to English

Photo credit Alison Whitley.

Photo credit Alison Whitley.

Photo credit Alison Whitley.

Alison Whitley, Reporter

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With every new school year comes new students, but some school years, new teachers arrive on campus, as well. Mrs. Elizabeth Marymee, who teaches English I and II, is one of these new teachers this academic year.

Throughout her high school years, Marymee always thought she was going to be a veterinarian. It wasn’t until her freshman year of college at Cal Poly Pomona when she realized her passion could lie in a different field.

The revelation first occurred when looking at her grades. “I finished up my fall semester … and it dawned on me: I loved biology. I was working my hardest, but all I could get was a B-minus,” Marymee said. She began to question if veterinary school was worth pursuing after realizing her grades were not improving. “I could not pull my head above a B-minus, and [yet] I was going to be a vet? And they do this for 8 years… ! It was one of those head smack moments.”

So Marymee instead formed a new plan. “I went home and I talked to my mom and said, ‘I really love English!’” She later spoke with her college English professor, who simply advised her to go for it. “He had total confidence in me.”

Marymee decided to become an English teacher, and has been teaching children for approximately 18 years. Before coming to Classical Academy High School, she taught students that were too sick to attend public school for various reasons. For anywhere from two weeks to three years she tutored kids affected by car accidents, degenerative diseases, cancer and much more. “It was fantastic; I really did enjoy it. I got to know the parents really well. “ I am old enough now where I have seen some of my students grow up and have babies and get married,” Marymee stated.

Marymee has also taught children who were visiting for multiple weeks at a time from places like Vietnam, France, Spain, French Guiana and more.

When asked what her teaching style is, Marymee explains that there are “three types of English teachers. You have the vocabulary and grammar person who is a stickler for good grammar… the creative writer… and then you have me… the reader. I would be very happy if I gave everybody a very good book, and a fireplace, and a cup of tea, and we all just sat and read all period long because that is what I enjoy. So I try to cram as much reading into my class as possible.”

Marymee also has prior experience working with Classical Academy High School. Last year she was provided the opportunity to substitute the Journalism class while Mrs. Shields was on maternity leave. Over this time Marymee learned a lot about Classical and was able to absorb its atmosphere.

When asked how Classical is different from your average high school, Marymee gushed about the academic environment. “ It is very supportive, and it is great to be here. The kids want to learn here, and if they don’t then others will pull them in and help them… My son is a freshman here as well this year, and he always talks about cool things like sitting next to a football player that is extremely intelligent.” She attributes to the fact that “it’s cool to be smart here.”

Marymee says that, while Classical is very different from other public schools, “the struggles are no different. There is no difference in where people come from regionally, economically, socially. … But there is in the desire that knowledge is a primary goal here.”  

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Plan B-minus: New Teacher Elizabeth Marymee Talks Shifting Gears from Biology to English