"When I think of Juli, I think of connection," said Senior High Principal Mr. Tom Campbell about English teacher Mrs. Julianne Bertin. "She really has a gift of connecting with a broad range of students--from those who are at-risk to those who are high achievers. She finds opportunities to lift up our reluctant learners or those who may feel alienated or may be dealing with tougher social issues." Echoing his sentiments from the faculty perspective, Ms. Jordan Sharp, a colleague of Mrs. Bertin, says, "Juli was assigned to be my mentor when I started at Exeter four years ago. However, she has quickly become a close friend. We jokingly say that she is my 'school mom' because she gives me advice, teaches me life lessons and supports me. I am so thankful to have such a wonderful person in my life, and she deserves every ounce of appreciation for her selfless work at Exeter," she says.
But in addition to connecting to her students, Mr. Campbell says that Mrs. Bertin possesses a unique ability to embrace change throughout her 33-year career as an English teacher at Exeter, as well as finding ways to make her lessons relevant to students' lives now and in the future. "It's at the heart of who she is as an educator." Today, we're so excited and proud to highlight Mrs. Julianne Bertin as we continue our series of the longest-serving teachers here in Exeter in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week:
Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A: I became a teacher because I had great teachers. I went through the Oley Valley School District (K through 12) and I had amazing teachers in the 1970's and 1980's. Mrs. Hart (grade 1) instilled in me a love of reading, Mrs. Rogers (grade 5) helped me find my confidence, Mr. Sample gave me the freedom to explore my creativity in the performing arts, Mrs. Ewing enabled me to see writing as personal self expression--they were amazing!
Q: Did you ever do anything other than teaching? If so, what?
A: I worked some interesting jobs in my college years. I was a telemarketer, an auto repair customer service representative, a waitress, a hostess, and I cleaned law offices in West Chester. But I have been a teacher ever since 1990.
Q: If you wouldn’t have been a teacher, what other career would you have pursued?
A: A lawyer, a singer, a travel writer
Q: Can you please tell us where you’ve taught, what you’ve taught and for how long?
A: I have taught here at the SHS for 33 years--in the English department--mostly American Literature and Career Communications
Q: What do you love most about teaching?
A: The students--the job is pretty meaningless without them!
Q: What was your favorite grade or subject when you were a student?
A: Fifth grade was special. I had an incredible teacher and so many great memories. I loved reading, writing and literature classes for as long as I can remember.
Q: What’s a moment you’ll never forget from teaching?
A: I took a group of students to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On the day of the trip, I had to tell two students they could not go because they had not submitted permission forms. In a school bus, on the Schuylkill Expressway the students in the back of the bus demanded I come to the back. The two students I had to leave behind, followed the bus in a red Honda! They parked and went on the tour with us.... I called Mr. Keller and he took care of the discipline consequences the following day. I learned that teens are often outrageous and impulsive--that has not changed!
Q: What’s a lesson you’ve learned from your students that you’ll never forget?
A: I see examples of strength and resilience from my students every day. This reminds me to always remain flexible in this profession.
Q: What’s the best thing about teaching in Exeter?
A: Exeter is a community that thrives on change. A lot has changed since I started teaching here. Change is not always easy to manage, but it certainly has kept my mind open to new outcomes and possibilities.
Q: What have you learned about the profession since becoming a teacher?
A: The world changes, trends in education come and go, leadership changes frequently, but high school students ALWAYS need consistency, safety and community to flourish.
Q: What teaching accomplishment fills you with pride?
A: Early in my career I was very involved in developing integrated English and Social Studies courses. Even though we no longer offer these courses, I am incredibly proud of that era of my career. It was very collaborative and reminded me that content cannot always be separated. The world is dynamic and making connections is the most critical aspect of producing life long learners.
Q: What’s one skill that you hope all students learn from you?
A: That no matter what they do, good communication skills are essential! Read, write, speak and listen confidently!