Featured English Educators

Janice Jett, New Faculty

Janice Jett loves all things involving teaching and learning! She has enjoyed 20 years of experience in education, serving both in administrative and instructional positions with students from PreK to post-secondary settings. With classroom experience in middle and high schools as well as collegiate settings, she has also served in public and parochial leadership positions in grades PK-8.

Her immediate family includes a wonderful husband of nearly 20 years and two children, a middle school daughter, and a high school freshman son. She is THRILLED to serve at Gibbons where she hopes to inspire among students and her colleagues a lifelong love of learning!

Dr. Jett currently teaches English II Honors.

Her favorite recent book is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. She looks forward to exploring some of America’s most notable works with her students this year, including selections by Nathanial Hawthorne, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou and many others!

Spotlight on AP English Teacher Michael Friedman

He’s inspiring, he’s funny, he’s supportive, he’s passionate about his subject … are just a few of the ways students describe Michael Friedman, their AP English teacher.

“What I like most about having Mr. Friedman as a teacher is his willingness to aid a student with his or her work,” says Steven Fedorovich ‘16. “He will match the effort of the student in his or her learning; if the student is willing to write ten drafts for a paper, he will always offer prompt feedback even if it requires him to lose sleep.”

Luke Bobo ’16 adds, “He is also a caring teacher who greets you every time you walk through his door, and when you leave.”

Those before and after class acknowledgements, to be sure, are accompanied by music. The ritual has become something of Friedman’s signature, and the tune he plays on Fridays, “Wagon Wheel,” has become a Gibbons tradition.

It is clear, even to the most casual observer, that Friedman, who says being an English teacher “has become part of his blood,” cares for his students - and for Gibbons.

“Pretty much everything that has a positive impact on my students could only happen at Gibbons,” says Friedman, a 14-year veteran of the school.

Of his work outside the classroom, he adds, “I can’t say ‘NO’ when kids want something…it has made me more tired at the end of certain weeks, but also blessed me with the opportunity to be a kid myself.”

His students, in turn, feel they are the ones who are blessed.

Experience as a teacher: He taught at a number of colleges, including Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Charleston, West Virginia, and West Virginia State College. For his 14 years at Gibbons he has taught a variety of English courses, including AP Language and Composition. He was named Gibbons Teacher of the Year by his colleagues in 2014.

Education: He hold a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, and a master’s degree in American and Modern Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. He also attended the National Shakespeare Conservatory in New York City.

Professional background: Before teaching, he dabbled in journalism, and for a time had a weekly music and book review column in The Charleston Gazette. He also wrote regularly for a national magazine, and occasionally wrote speeches and papers for The Appalachian Education Lab, but teaching has always been his main career.

Outside the Classroom: He has run Coffeehouse since its inception, served many times as a chaperone on the annual Italy trip, and is considered among the more prolific authors of student recommendation letters.

Why did you want to become a teacher?
… I had to teach composition courses in graduate school at Washington University … and I just kind of took to it naturally.

Why did you want to teach English at Cardinal Gibbons?
It wanted me. Mr. Curtis’s predecessor, Brother Michel Bettigole, contacted me out of the blue… He said, ‘come here, it will be good for you.’ Of course he was right.

How would you describe your teaching style?
The same as the instructions I give my students before writing papers: “If it works, it works”… try to be interesting whatever that means.

What do you want your students to know when they leave your class?
That they can write a sentence that will make someone want to read their next sentence.

How do you keep your classes fresh?
To quote that sweet, old folksinger, John Denver, “poems, prayers, and promises.”

The script and web story were written by Rachelle Garbarine, Marketing and Publications Coordinator. Read the script.