Q+A With Ms. Ellis


Freshman and Sophomore History teacher Ms. Ellis sat down to talk about her teaching career and what she loves most about teaching at HBHS. “Honestly the best part of teaching here is the people that I work with. We have some really amazing communities, all of our departments are like little families” said Ellis.

Katelyn Seamonds, Staff Writer

AP World and US History Teacher Christina Ellis is known to be a student favorite here at Hollis Brookline High School. She is known for her adorable “Dog of the Day Calendar” and her inspirational John Green poster. She was interviewed during Cav Block by Katelyn Seamonds on teaching history here at HBHS.

How long have you been a teacher at Hollis – Brookline?

“This is my seventh year teaching and seventh year at Hollis-Brookline”

When did you first know you wanted to be a teacher?

“Honestly, not until I was in college. I found out that I was in love with geography and history and just the world. I realized that probably one of the easiest ways to share that passion was with teaching it to others.”

What was your favorite class that you took in college?

“The class that made me realize I wanted to teach was this giant lecture hall class, which was almost no one’s favorite, but it was this class about Non-Western Geography. Which was basically the geography of any country that wasn’t Europe, North America, or South America. My teacher was this amazing passionate person; he had lived this crazy life. He was born in Eritrea and had traveled the whole world so I could see the passion in his teaching, and every day I came to class excited and realized that “I want this guy’s job.”’

What is your favorite part of history to teach?

“I love teaching the Black Death, I know it’s morbid but it’s just so much fun and everybody always gets a kick out of it just because there’s so much going on. We’ve got Mongols spreading disease, fleas infecting rats and infecting people and it’s just so chaotic and the impacts of it are kind of funny to look back on. You know, people responding to this disease, that they hadn’t even invented science yet. It’s funny to look back on. Which makes it fun to teach.” 

What is something you admire about the HB School District?

“Honestly the best part of teaching here is the people that I work with. We have some really amazing communities, all of our departments are like little families. The social studies department in particular,  we do a Secret Santa every year and we have a group chat that is filled with pictures of dogs. So, this place definitely feels like a family with many little sub families. I think that’s a real victory here.”

Is there any part of history you wish you could spend more time teaching?

“I just wish I had more time in general to be able to teach world history and geography. I think so much time is spent talking about the U.S. in terms of other peoples’ curriculums. If I could take two years to teach world history instead of one, that would be so much better. Just because it’s such a big topic and I get to take a little time here and there to hit highlights of world history, but if I could spend more time on the Elizabethan era, talking about British kings and such. I would love to spend more time talking about specifics in world history. I find the whole topic of Colonialism and Imperialism really fascinating, but we can really only talk about it [Colonialism and Imperialism] as a concept and less about the specific practices of it.”

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of history?

“Shockingly, my favorite thing to do is travel. I try to do it as much as possible. I also enjoy writing a lot, and I write a whole bunch of different stuff. I like to write about my travels; I have a journal that I write in, that I kinda just  about all of my adventures.”

Did you find it difficult to teach half remotely and half in person last year?

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I think what made it especially difficult, other than  the logistical nightmare, I don’t know if you can tell but one of my favorite things to do as a teacher is to build relationships with students and really get to know people, and it was so hard to do that last year. Not just because of the remoteness, but the vibe last year was so divided. Even between me and the students in the classroom. Everything just felt so stressful and took so much longer for me to build those relationships. I think I did get there eventually, but it took a lot more time.”

What do you think is the most important thing that history classes do for students?

“It teaches students that every perspective is so different when you’re looking at every event. I think that’s something that’s very difficult for students to learn. You know, you’re young, you’re constantly seeing the world through your own eyes, so it’s hard to think about people seeing it completely differently. Just that constant reminder to think about how different events are perceived by people in different shoes. That’s something that’s really important for people to know in the modern day as well.”

What do you enjoy most about advising class council?

“I mean, like I said, my favorite part of teaching is getting to know students, and really having fun. Class Council allows me to teach kids how to work together to build a community to raise money and do things for their class. And, I do love Spirit Week, it’s such a fun time.”

If you love learning about history, or maybe just want to see a cute picture of a puppy, make sure to stop in at room 275 and give Ms. Ellis a visit.