by Sara Motlik
The newest addition to the high school English department has lived and taught around the world, and now brings her international insight and love for literature and creative writing to ASW. Meet Mrs. Ranado, the new 9th- and 10th-grade English teacher.
Warrior News: Where did you teach and live before coming to ASW?
Mrs. Ranado: Before coming to ASW, I lived in Ashburn, Virginia, outside of Washington, DC. We were there for a year so my husband could learn Polish. I taught at-risk and homebound students in grades 9-12 online through Ed Options Academy, an accredited US online school that serves students who cannot attend traditional brick and mortar schools. Many of the students I worked with were incarcerated or home schooled because of health issues. Before that we were Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where I taught 9th grade, 11th grade, AP Literature, AP Language, and Film Studies. I have also taught in New York, VA, Tennessee, and Moscow, Russia at the AAS Moscow.
WN: Where did you most enjoy teaching, so far?
Mrs. R: I am sure I will love Warsaw the best, but up till now, I think Moscow because that was my first overseas teaching experience, and for the first time I was surrounded by colleagues and students from all over the world. I was able to develop the first Creative Writing course they’d ever had, among other cool experiences. Teaching there opened my eyes to a new world of overseas teaching I never knew existed.
WN: Which subjects do you teach, and if several, which one is your favorite?
Mrs. R: Right now, I’m teaching English Language and Literature, years 4 and 5. That’s MYP language for English 9 and 10.
WN: What do you enjoy most about teaching your subject(s)?
Mrs. R: Besides exposing kids to new texts and getting their unique perspectives as we read them, I love helping them see that they are writers. Teaching writing is the most challenging work, but the most rewarding.
WN: If you could recommend a book for high school students to read (from outside the curriculum), what would it be and why?
Mrs. R: I always recommend They Say, I Say by Graff and Birkenstein, not because it’s exciting, but because as a guide book it works. It gives you clear, concrete tips for how to write an argument. And, it’s used at many universities in the United States to help students become better writers.
WN: Who is your favorite author, and why?
Mrs. R: Today—David Sedaris because I love his sardonic humor, and I literally laugh out-loud reading his books. But, asking me to choose a favorite author is like asking me to choose a favorite band—I can’t choose just one. Incidentally, the band today is Radiohead.
WN: If you could choose one moment from your teaching past that you wish you could revisit or relive, what would it be?
Mrs. R: I would love to go back to the time a student told me she didn’t care about her grade, she just wanted to take my AP Literature class because she said she’d learn more failing my class than getting an A in another. I wish more students could see the value of learning for learning’s sake. Or when I was chosen as the graduation speaker by the seniors a few years ago—that was cool, too.
WN: What is one piece of advice that you would give to high school students, especially those new to the school or the freshmen?
Mrs. R: Give yourself the freedom to fail spectacularly—that’s when real learning happens—and then, learn how to overcome that failure.
Finally, on the important subject of the Oxford Comma, Mrs. Ranado declared, “The Oxford Comma is beautiful, necessary, and the only comma for me.” Is there any other way to put it?