An Interview with Ms. Roxas


What made you become an English teacher?

I made the decision to become an English teacher when I was in 6th grade. I’ve always been an avid reader who enjoys writing, so pursuing my passion for literature was the only career path for me. Every single one of the English teachers I had during my time in the West Orange school district solidified my choice to follow in their footsteps, and I continued to be inspired by how they taught me literature. My former teachers, who are now my colleagues, inspired me to be who I am in the classroom today.

How long have you been teaching?

Only 2 ½ years officially!

What made you teach in your hometown?

I learned so much during my time as a student in the district, and I wanted to return the favor to my community. The education I received in West Orange still influences my day to day life, and I wanted to help teach students who are living in the exact same environment as I did. We walk the same halls, sit in the same classrooms, and grow with the same teachers, and learning in West Orange is such a unique experience. 

Who was your favorite teacher at WOHS and why?

Is it a cop out to say all of my English teachers? I’m biased because I always loved those who taught me literature (and because they’re my current colleagues), but it’s the truth. The late and great Joe Suriano taught me about what it means to be “the catcher in the rye” my Freshman year. Ms. Baran shaped me as a writer, and I’m still so proud of being one of the only people in our AP Comp class to achieve a perfect score on an essay. I had two English teachers my senior year – Ms. Thomassie and Mr. Champagne – and they saw a spark in me that I didn’t even know I was there. 

How was your high school experience?

I was a completely different person in high school. My students have described me as bubbly and fun, but when I was a teenager, I was very quiet and kept to myself. I was very studious and focused on school over everything else, but I still managed to have a lot of fun with my friends. I still keep in touch with a few of them, and we look back on our time at WOHS fondly. We always have a story or two to share about our high school days whenever we get together.

What was one of your best memories being at WOHS?

When I was a senior, I won a Silver Key in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. My achievement was mentioned on the morning announcements, and so many people congratulated me that day. Friends, teachers, even people I didn’t even know all that well. It was a big shock to me that anyone even paid attention to the morning announcements, let alone cared to express their excitement over my award. That day made me realize that despite my tendency to keep to myself, a lot of people were on my team and wanted to see me succeed.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons when I’m not teaching. I even created a little classroom in the game! I also pass the time by reading novels and comics. When it was safe to go outside, I would go to New York to watch plays and go to pop-up museums with my friends. I also love going to the movies!

What have you been doing since quarantine has started?

I’ve been doing my best to give my students a quality education online. I’m trying my hardest to provide them with enjoyable instruction that will prepare them for next year. 

I’ve also been taking care of my family from a safe distance – my aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandmother-in-law all contracted covid-19 at the same time. After school, I would bring them cooked meals, groceries, and other essential supplies. 

What is your favorite book and movie?

My favorite movie of all time is Studio Ghibli’s animated film, Kiki’s Delivery Service. It’s about a young witch who learns to hone her powers while being far away from home. I used to pop the VHS tape in the VCR over and over again – I even had all the preview commercials memorized before the movie actually played! It’s a story that resonates with me even until now; the main character, Kiki, learns that she’s capable of succeeding on her own, but also knows that she’ll always have her friends and family around to help her. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseni is my favorite novel. It’s about sisterhood, perseverance, and growth. Reading this novel was an emotional rollercoaster, and I felt things that a book had never made me feel before.