Year 32: Rebetsky ‘clowns around’ but loves teaching high school English

This is the first in a series of affectionate examinations of our veteran teachers. They have outlasted many changes in the educational system. Next week, we will publish Mr. Mark Lastova.

Mrs. Natalie Rebetsky in her clown suit.

courtesy of Natalie Rebetsky

Mrs. Natalie Rebetsky in her clown suit.

by Jacob Bolger, Reporter

Raising chickens, gardening, and taking care of her grandson, Noah, are all things that Mrs. Natalie Rebetsky loves to do when she isn’t at school. Rebetsky frequently tells her students about her chicken care horror stories, and she has a large portion of her classroom covered in pictures of chickens.

Now, after 32 years, she is the English department chair and has been for nearly ten years.  She is the first to tell you that she is no “spring chicken,” but she is still reinventing herself to meet the needs of students.

Mrs. Becky Sterba, media specialist assistant, said, “Mrs. Rebetsky is very intelligent, a good team leader, and has great communication skills. She is also great with people.”

Reading is her passion.  Even as a young child, she and her siblings established a library and let all the neighborhood children check out the books.

“My mom wasn’t so happy when she discovered all the missing books from the shelves.”  

Mischief is her middle name.  She once made a book-of-the-month club for her friends, where she mailed each a book she thought they’d enjoy with a formal-looking book review from “Natalia Rebetskia.” When she was younger, Rebetsky had a job dressing up at children’s birthday parties as a clown or a princess to entertain the kids.

Sophomore Grace Winpigler said, “Mrs. Rebetsky is a very entertaining teacher, and she taught me how to write better essays.”

Rebetsky said that she realized from a very young age that teaching was the career path for her, and many of her family members are also teachers. When she was younger, she used to boss around her younger siblings and pretend to be their teacher. She also created math worksheets and gave her brother and sisters recess time.

“I think teaching is just in my blood,” said Rebetsky.

She attended Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. This school was her mother’s alma mater. She said, “I lived in a family where I thought, ‘Since my mom went to Hood College and she loved it, then I’ll apply to Hood College and go there”. In the 1980’s, choosing a college was much less complex than it is today.  She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hood. She also has a certificate in Administration.

She earned her master’s degree in reading, which qualified her to be a reading specialist. 

When she was in high school at Paint Branch in Montgomery County, her favorite subjects included science, history, and English. She was also one of the editors of her school newspaper during high school. Now, she is the teacher in charge of The Lance.

A photo of Mrs. Rebetsky from the 1986 yearbook.
A photo of Mrs. Rebetsky from the 1986 yearbook.

Since she began teaching , she has taught English, AP literature, creative writing, journalism, and theater. Prior to teaching, her work included life guarding and secretarial work for an insurance company.

In 2006, Rebetsky won the Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year Award from The Washington Post. She also won the Golden Lance Award in 2012.

Rebetsky remembers high school being a little less pressure and more fun. One of her best memories is when she spent several hours of her day cutting and styling several girls’ hair before prom. 

“I had to do so many girls’ hair that the principal actually gave class coverage,” said Rebetsky. “Those were the ‘old days,'” said Rebetsky.

In 1999, Rebetsky started the Mr. Linganore contest. Mr. Jeremy Brown started to help her run the contest in 2003. The title of  Mr. Linganore was awarded to Matt DeMember in 2016.  More photos of the contest are lined up on the shelves in her room.

Rebetsky said, “If I have my way, I will probably stay here until I’m dead. Because I really love to be a teacher.  My husband is very tolerant of the many, many nights doing schoolwork at the kitchen table.”

Lancer Media recognizes Rebetsky for her dedication. Next week, Lancer Media will feature Mark Lastova.