Photo: Belmont High seniors Haley Brown (left) and Eva Hill are working to reinstate popular English teacher Roanne Bosch whose contract was not extended after two years.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Belmont High School student who didn’t enjoy having Roanne Bosch as their English teacher.
“She’s everything a teacher should be, noted Brown; passionate, driven, compassionate and true understanding of all of our needs,” said senior Haley Brown, who with fellow 12th grader Eva Hill took Bosch’s junior honors class – which focuses on American writers – the year before and came back this school year to be her teaching assistants.
“She’s universally loved in a school which is hard to do with such diverse population,” said Brown.
The reason for such high praise for someone at Belmont High for only the past two years, is “this innate talent that’s not commonly found, it’s about her character that makes students really want to learn,” said Brown. “She really cares what each person say in class then asks them more questions, treating us like mature young adults with ideas that are valid,” said Hill.
The result is student’s care about the material rather than completing it by rote, said Hill.
With a growing number of students drawn to her teaching approach and lessons, it would appear that Belmont High had discovered an educator with that something special that every district is seeking to teach in their schools.
But Bosch’s classes will be filled by another educator in September as the school district declined to extend the English teacher’s contract for a third year.
For students, parents and some fellow teachers, the news came as a bolt from the blue.
“All of the blood left my head. I was in shock,” said Brown after hearing that Bosch was not asked to come back
“I saw a Facebook page that said Miss Bosch was leaving and I thought it was a [prank],” said Hill.
It’s not that Bosch lacks experience in the field; a third generation teacher, she joined Teach For America after graduating from the State University of New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry and earned a master’s in education from Harvard. Bosch taught at Lexington High School in the mid-2000s and earned professional status there in 2011 before teaching at Belmont.
While Bosch quietly told students about her status, the news got out to the hallways and across the school in a flash.
“The response has been incredibly passionate,” said Brown, which included a student writing “#freebosch” on his arm.
Students rallied to come up with a plan to allow Bosch to come back for the next year. Brown and Hill joined others to create a petition on change.org in which 705 students, parents and others are calling the Belmont School Committee to rehire Bosch. Parents began discussing possible tactic to remedy what they see is a problem in fairly evaluating staff.
What is troubling to Brown, Hill and other students is that no reason has been provided by the district for why Bosch was terminated. “We don’t know how many people were part of the decision, who they were and what was the criteria they used. It seems pretty arbitrary since all we know is how engaged and great she was in the classroom,” said Hill.
Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan told the Belmontonian in an email “[t]he district respectfully will not comment on employment and personnel matters.”
If a teacher of Ms. Bosch’s caliber can be let go without a second thought, it worries us about the future, said Hill.
“It’s evident to us that the district’s decision was a mistake,” she said.
The students and their supporters will take their cause to the Belmont School Committee at its Tuesday, May 22 meeting at the Chenery Middle School with the ultimate goal of seeing their teacher back at Belmont High in the fall.
“We want to make a difference and reinstate Miss Bosch,” said Hill
As they have been working on the effort, the goal is now bigger than just bringing back Bosch, said Brown. “How is an educator who will be in the same position in the future to know how to do better in the future?” she said.
“We want to foster an environment where more teachers aren’t afraid to try new things and engage with all their students and treat them like they deserve to be there no matter how academically talented they may be,” said Brown.
“Why would a teacher who is an innovator want to come to Belmont when they fire the ones they have here already?” said Hill.