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Teacher Spotlight: Featuring Mrs. Kempf

By: Ella Garbarsky

About a week ago, Emma Callahan and I interviewed the eleventh-grade English teacher, Mrs. Kempf, and what we found might make Mrs. Kempf an even more loveable teacher than she already is. I would like to preface this by saying, yes, Emma and I asked Mrs. Kempf about her insane fashion sense because I know we were all wondering. 


Mrs. Kempf told us she tries to keep all of us on our toes and that “students need things that interest them,” which is why she tries her best to come up with a new and creative outfit each day, which Emma and I have deemed a success on her part as she has yet to repeat an outfit this year. 


Mrs. Kempf used to work at various institutions in New England before she moved to West Hartford, but one institution in particular struck Emma and me as more interesting than the others. The profound English teacher used to work in Fall River, Massachusetts, at a deaconess home for girls who got kicked out of public school. Mrs. Kempf told us that she had to “learn how to take down students and stuff,” which is both terrifying and extremely cool. 


Emma and I began to learn as the interview continued that Mrs. Kempf is sort of the definition of “cool” and lived a far more exciting life than one would think an English teacher at a local school in West Hartford might have. 


Mrs. Kempf originally went to school to become a marine biologist, but then she met her freshman-year English teacher, Andre Dubus III, who wrote a book that made Oprah’s list of top books to read, and as Mrs. Kempf put it, “his life changed.” Andre Dubus III inspired Mrs. Kempf, who then took the path of English instead of marine biology. She “went to graduate school for creative writing in Australia” and, even to this day, knows very successful authors from her time spent on the other side of the world. 


But Mrs. Kempf’s path to becoming a teacher does not stop there. She told Emma Callahan and me that she had wanted to become an author before she even thought about teaching. But then later decided against that, although when Emma and I asked if she would ever consider writing again, Mrs. Kempf told us both that in a few years, when she has more time to settle down and take the time to write out something, she might do just that. For all the book lovers out there and anyone wondering, Mrs. Kemp’s favorite author is Ernest Hemingway. 


Before Mrs. Kempf finally landed her job as an English teacher, she worked in insurance and strongly disliked it, leading her to her current profession at last. 


Mrs. Kempf told Emma and me that she loves it when students come back to visit her or send emails letting her know that the things she taught them in her class were actually useful because, in the end, that’s all students can hope for, am I right? 


Another fun fact about the beloved English teacher is that Mrs. Kempf is “very good at impersonating voices and [is] actually a very good drawer.” Mrs. Kempf said that with her impersonations, she makes “all the other teachers laugh pretty hard,” which might not be something every student in her English class would have expected. And because Emma and I have been asking all of the teachers we interview who they would like to have dinner with, dead or alive, Mrs. Kempf would like to have dinner with Meryl Streep because “she’s cool,” which is honestly the best answer, I think. 


Overall, Emma Callahan and I confirmed that Mrs. Kempf is as confident and bold as we had thought and that she embodies qualities that not only Emma and I admire but that I’m sure lots of her students admire as well. She is not afraid to speak her mind, and that is something Emma and I both find refreshing in today’s world. 


Emma Callahan and I found through our interview that Mrs. Kempf is so much more than just an English teacher. Mrs. Kempf has dreams like the rest of us and has talents and a unique past that shaped her into the great English teacher she is today. 


Emma and I cannot wait to read her books one day when she becomes a published author or read the research she publishes when she becomes a marine biologist (whichever comes first). 


Emma and I were so happy to have gotten to know our English teacher a little better, and we would like the underclassmen to know that if next year you get Mrs. Kempf as your English teacher, you are in good hands. 

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