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What was your most embarrassing high school experience?

I don’t remember or know that there was anything particularly embarrassing… I was pretty even-keeled. I had my close group of friends, but I wasn’t part of the “popular” group because I wasn’t a cheerleader. I wasn’t part of that clique, but I was a very good student, so if we are defining cliques, I would be in the academic achievement clique. We were pretty down to earth. We were friends with almost everyone. I just remember it was very easy for me.

Was there anything stressful or hard?

Nothing really worrisome. Well… The only thing I was worried about is that I was on the basketball team, and I wasn’t first string; I always came out later. Since I would be called in towards the end of the game, I tried to remain psyched all the way through, but when I was finally put in, I always felt cold–like I wasn’t fully prepared to play. I was always so afraid I would do something stupid and hurt the team.

What else about high school? What was it like?

Well, my brother was in high school and he was always two years ahead of me. He was a very good student. Very popular. Very good student. So when the teachers always asked “Oh are you Ernie Mattei’s sister?” I’d always says yes and then I’d focus on being so much better than he was because I was clearly so much more adorable than l was.

What will you miss most about Coginchaug?

Thats easy. I’ll miss the kids. Even the ones I didn’t have to teach, the ones I just see in the hall who say hi. And the other thing is I just can’t imagine how I’ll live my life without being able to talk about literature everyday. Thats going to be very tough for me. While I know its time, I’ve been thinking about this alot, to retire. There are things that I will miss, but there are things I have to do and enjoy. But how am I going to substitute all the fun I have here? That’s what I’m going to miss. But the kids. The kids are just wonderful.

Where did [calling kids] hoodlum come from?

Its a loving term for kids who aren’t prepared for class, who aren’t doing their homework, have forgotten to bring in stuff they were supposed to bring in. But its said with love. There are no true hoodlums at Coginchaug.

What was the most difficult situation you had to deal with at Coginchaug?

I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this story. I had a sweet young girl in my tenth grade class, it was British Lit. in those days. I had turned my back to the class to write something on the board and one of the boys mooned the entire class. He was sitting in the front and mooned the entire class. I had heard a little bit of giggling, but this girl was such a straight arrow and wonderful kid, she felt like she had to tell me that this boy had mooned the entire class. So I said “okay, I’ll take care of it.” and actually the Principal and I created a little sting because we knew he had bragged about this to his friends and the Principal had told him that he knew what the boy had done in class. Even though we had never mentioned her name, and this was all conjecture, he confessed. I thought that was kind of cool. Because we had to protect the girl’s identity and be careful about how we played it.

Cheesecake or Cannolis?

No competition. Cannolis. Real old italian cannoli recipes made by real italian bakery.

Paper or plastic?

Always paper. But its hard to find now so I bring my own bags.

Poe or Shakespeare?

Oh. Theres no comparison. Poe is fun to read, but Shakespeare is so dense, so complex , so much more challenging.

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