After teaching in the district for fourteen years, with ten of those years at North, Dr. Donna Clovis will retire at the end of this year. Dr. Clovis has taught Language Arts III and IV, and has made a positive impact on her students in each of her classes with her exciting assignments and teaching methods.
Originally, Clovis went to school to study writing and graduated from Columbia Journalism school. She became a freelance journalist, writing editorials for the Star Ledger and the New York Times.
It wasn’t until a report she wrote for the Star Ledger on 9/11 that Clovis decided she wanted to work in the classroom. “I was covering 9/11 in New York and almost lost my life. I wanted to be close to my family and thought teaching would allow me to be home again with my children and other children,” Clovis said.
Before coming to North, Clovis taught at Dutch Neck, Wicoff, and Village elementary schools. There, she taught the Gifted and Talented and English as a Second Language Programs. After about four years in the classroom, Clovis found her passion for teaching and decided to move up to the high school to teach Language Arts, which she found extremely different from teaching at the elementary level. “I did not have to line up and march my kindergarten students to the lunchroom! I love the independence of high school students,” Clovis said.
And the love has been mutual. Clovis’ students found her to be understanding of the average teenager life, for which many students were grateful. “She would lighten the workload during especially busy times like APs. She also was very understanding when it came to deadlines and would try to be more flexible if we had something big going on,” junior Jeremy Bedient said.
Clovis’ passion inevitably leaked into her teaching, inspiring many of her students. “I think she is a very knowledgeable woman and is really passionate about her teaching, literature, and helping her students become aware of the world around them,” junior Lexi Duplak said.
Clovis makes her assignments engaging and enjoyable. Every year when her classes read the Shakespeare play Macbeth, her students would perform a scene of their choosing in front of the class. But here’s the catch: the scene had to be modernized. Preparing by putting together costumes and writing interesting twists on the classic, her classes learned kinesthetically while also collaborating with their peers in an enjoyable environment. “Clovis focused on having us do projects and work in groups, instead of having us only ever read and write because it let us manage our time, and broadened the information that we learned,” Bedient said.
Clovis will be greatly missed at North next year, and we wish her the best when she continues to keep doing what she loves: writing and teaching. “I love working with students, and that’s why I am moving to the college level. I will always have students to teach,” Clovis said. “I’d love to leave my writing as my legacy. I love to write and teach writing. I imagine that if every student could read one of my books, well, maybe I could be like Maya Angelou one day!”