• Emily Batka

Mystery Teacher

Where were you born, and where have you lived?

I was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. I have also lived in Cleveland, Ohio; Boston, Massachusetts; St. Charles, Illinois; El Paso, Texas; and here in lovely Spring Lake!

Did you have any nicknames growing up?

Only my brothers are allowed to call me Sue, otherwise no, it is Susan.

What was your most memorable moment from high school?

Singing the National Anthem at my high school graduation.

What kind of car did you drive in high school?

My parents had a Ford Granada and a VW Beetle (manual); it was a requirement in my family that all student drivers learn to drive a manual car first, then go to the automatic.

What was your favorite class in high school?

Actually I really loved school in general, but in high school I had an amazing Spanish teacher, “Don” Castelli, and I really enjoyed learning the language and culture.

Where did you attend college?

My undergraduate degree is from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. My master’s degree is from Rhode Island College.

What is your favorite pastime?

Reading and drinking coffee (optimally doing both together!).

What is your favorite quote?

“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.” Fred Rogers

What is your middle name?


Do you have any children?

My husband of almost 30 years, Steve, and I have two wonderful adult children. Raymond (28 years) and Roxane (25). Raymond is married to Gina; she’s my daughter-in-law, but I love her like a daughter!

Do you have any animals?

No, I am afraid we have never had the time or the patience to give the love and attention to a pet. We did have a Beta fish, after 9/11, that my daughter named America, though.

What is the best thing about working in Spring Lake?

The community supports education, and our super student scholars work hard!

What is the last book you read?

At the moment I am reading a nonfiction book: Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime. It is about his life experience as a South African during the end Apartheid. It is historically very illuminating, and I would recommend it to any student/young adult since he is recounting a time in his life as a young boy/teenager, and he writes about a serious topic with humor woven throughout.

What professional sport would you play if you could?

Oh, I would be a swimmer, for sure! It is a great sport for your body and mind, and one you can pursue your entire life.

What would you be if you weren’t a teacher?

Tough one: either a pediatrician or a new correspondent for NPR/PBS (public radio/public TV).

What is your favorite vacation spot?

It used to be Sanibel Island, Florida, but now it is in front of my fireplace or on my deck in my backyard!

What was your most embarrassing moment as a teacher?

Oh my gosh, last year I fell down(read: tripped over myself) in class while Mr. Gilchrist was observing my teaching! It was hysterical! Luckily, I did not injure myself-what a klutz! :)

What is your favorite restaurant?

It is the Evergreen Restaurant-an Asian restaurant in Ann Arbor that we have been going to since our kids have attended University of Michigan-- a decade of beautiful memories!

What songs/artists are on your playlist?

I am fond of smooth jazz and I especially love the sound of a trumpet. Chris Botti is a favorite jazz trumpeter of mine; I have been to a few of his concerts. I am also a “big hair, 1970s, disco girl,” so any disco hit gets me dancing!

What would you change about education if you were in charge?

Giving grades makes learning (and teaching) a drag. I would eliminate or find a different way to assess mastery.

Any other interesting factoids you’d like to share about yourself, things perhaps no one else at SLHS would know about?

I had the privilege of meeting former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. My family attended the church where he is an active member and also sat in on one of his very popular “Bible classes.” He is so inspiring! I have a picture taken of my family with President Carter and Mrs. Carter that I display in my home!

Last weeks Mystery Teacher was: Mr. Sineath

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