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What's Up Magazine

Sam Haller

Jan 09, 2017 03:43PM ● By Cate Reynolds

Sam Haller

DeMatha Catholic High School, Hyattsville


Years teaching at DeMatha: 12

Currently teaching: 9th–12th grade English, World Literature, AP English Language and Composition, British Literature, Crime and Detective Fiction

Proudest teaching moment: “Every time I manage to convince a student to read for fun or sheer curiosity is my proudest moment. My colleagues and I have spent several years building up classroom libraries full of high-interest books and trying to foster a real culture of independent reading at DeMatha.”

Teaching philosophy: “Make it interesting and relevant. Without those connections, everybody’s just going through the motions. As a beginning teacher, I focused on teaching the literature. I thought I had to know everything about a text like Macbeth and be able to transfer all of that to my students. Now I realize it’s about teaching the literacy, the transferrable skills of interpretation, argumentation, and discussion.”

Toughest challenge facing educators: “Teenagers, as well as the rest of us, are bombarded with digital stimuli and superficial tidbits to glance at and then move on. I think teachers have to make a case for the importance of an intellectual life, one that involves respectful discussion of ideas with people face-to-face as well as quiet time spent reading, writing, or reflecting.”

Sam has chaired the English Department for many years. He started our Recreational Reading Program. He oversees our new teacher orientation, has put our senior and parent exit interviews online, coached freshman football, and presented at conferences. He conducts a Language Arts Teachers’ Workshop for local middle school teachers that includes teaching techniques and an introduction to the expectations of a high school college prep curriculum. He developed a student impression survey as a way of getting feedback in a specific class by responding to different statements about the class. He created Senior Seminar which is a second semester English course for graduating seniors centered on more high-interest topics to prepare them for the expectations for college English classes.” —Daniel McMahon, Principal

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