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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

Sitting Down with Sal: A Q&A with Mrs. Salamone

Finn Brown
Students Lolly Adair ‘25 (left) and Y’arie Ramas ‘25 (middle) smile with their former English teacher Marie Salamone. Salamone has been teaching for over 25 years and currently instructs Accelerated English 9, Writing, College Composition and World Literature. “Bottom line, Mrs. Salamone’s the GOAT,” said Ramas.

Past students of English teacher Marie Salamone have described her as “kind and caring,” even going so far as to call her “mother” and “the GOAT.” Salamone (affectionately known as “Sal”) has been teaching for more than 25 years, including over a decade at HBHS where she has also served as girls tennis coach. Along the way, she has made meaningful connections with her students. Favorite memories recollected from juniors Lolly Adair and Y’arie Ramas include class karaoke, working outside and her generous gifting of Munchkins. So what makes Marie Salamone so great, and what draws her students to keep coming back?

You’ve been teaching for over 25 years. What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I think the thing I like most about it is when I meet students that I can really connect with…I’ve connected with all of you, particularly the kids that were in our College Comp class last year. Some other students…I’ve stayed in contact with over the years. I know a lot of people say that it’s the students, but truly, it really is the students.

What has been your experience teaching your new class World Lit?

I taught World Lit…probably about five or six years ago. I taught it with some students who were seniors then, and it’s been nice to have brought it back. It’s a small group; there are only six students in the class. We’ve read some books that I really enjoy: The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night-Time; we’re reading The Lilac Girls. We also read Tomorrow, When the War Began. It’s books from all over the world, so I like the experience. I was a little disappointed that the students aren’t getting college credit for it, but I like the course, and I wish we had more students [in it]. I hope it stays on track and that we have it for many years to come.

What is your favorite book to teach and why?

Oh my goodness! Truthfully, I have so many of them. One of the ones that I do like to teach is Beloved and The Handmaid’s Tale, which I taught for AP Lit for many years. I like [Beloved] because there’s so much to teach. We learn about slavery, we learn about what happened in our country and how slaves were treated, and how we didn’t know about so much with regard to what we as a country did to slaves at the time. I think we need to understand what happened with people, because we just don’t want those things to happen again. it’s not that we want to point our finger at people, it’s just that we want to understand that things happened, we want to acknowledge them, and we want to understand that each one of us are the same. Beloved teaches us that we shouldn’t be treating people any differently from one to the other. So I like teaching that book. Parts of it are very difficult, and students who have had me over the years understand it’s even hard for me to teach it, teach sections of it. But it brings a class as a community together, so I like those kinds of texts.

So, two of my favorite books. Handmaid’s Tale, now that it’s on television—Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite writers. I don’t like that it’s on television, because I think they changed so many sections of it. But, it really talks about this whole idea of women and being marginalized in a community, so I like teaching that book as well.

What class do you have the most joy in teaching?

I like teaching writing. It’s difficult because there’s so much correcting with writing classes. But I like teaching it, because hopefully when I’m finally not teaching anymore, I would like to get back to writing. I came into teaching as a stumbling stone; my goal when I was in graduate school was to write more. So I’m hoping to get back to write again.

As a National Writing Project Fellow, when I’m immersed in writing, I do write more, but when I’m here in school, I just don’t have the time. So I love to see when people and students write, and I like to see the creative part. One thing that I do know, as a member of the corporate America, students will be writing a lot, even though they don’t think they will. So I do like teaching writing. But I don’t like the correcting. I wish I could just teach it, and some little songbird would come and grade all the papers for me!

What is one special memory you have from your teaching career?

So many special memories! I remember I had a student….he had some mental health issues. I let him write a paper on a topic that was something I really didn’t want him to write about. But he talked to me about it, about this particular topic, and after he wrote about it, I had talked to his parents. And he came up to me after he wrote [about] the topic…and he said, “Mrs. Salamone, most teachers wouldn’t have let me write about that. And I really thank you for letting me and for helping me find the information. It really helped me.”

Even though, in my gut, I really didn’t want him to write about it, I knew he had some mental health problems and I was hoping that would help him. I think it was a catharsis for him. I actually have talked with his mother over the years and she still remembers that…I think that’s one of the things that I remember about helping him through a time in his life where he was having a difficult time. So there’s all sorts of kids who go through all sorts of things. Sometimes as a teacher, you don’t know what the best solution is, but you just try your best.

What do you enjoy about teaching at the college level?

I haven’t been in the classroom in a long time in college, but I’ve been online. And I think what I do like [about] teaching online at this point is that I have a wide array of students. I have students online that are working and coming back to school in order to advance themselves in their career, and I have students that are freshmen that are just starting out. So when they’re online and they’re working with each other in that dynamic situation, it really kind of helps me to facilitate the differences. A person can talk to a freshman about what that person in the corporate world is experiencing and how that freshman can think about what he will experience eventually. So I like to see the dynamics that work between a young freshman and a person who is coming back to school after many years and needs to get the degree because the degree [is] what’s going to help him get a promotion or get a pay raise. So I like that.

One of the things I do like about college—and this is actually kind of selfish of me—I don’t have to have the interaction, you know the many different types of interaction with the administration and with regard to all of the other things that happen in high school. When I’m in college, I just have to concentrate on the students. That’s different than here in high school because I have to juggle many hats. So for me, it’s much easier because all I do is concentrate on my students. And it makes me feel much happier because I know that my primary goal is to get those students through the class, whereas here, I have other things that I have to concentrate on and it’s harder here, I think. 

What has been your experience with teaching online courses versus in-person?

I came here to Hollis because I was teaching at UMass 100% online. UMass knew that I had a technology background and had moved me from the classroom to online, and I thought that I just didn’t want to. I felt isolated teaching 100% online, so when Hollis gave me the opportunity to come back in the classroom, I was like “I’m gonna do it.”

So I think [teaching online] is isolating at that time, a lot of times. But I also think that a lot more people are moving to the online platform, especially older people. They don’t have the time; people that are working and wanting to get their advanced degree, they don’t have the time to make that commute to a college campus and to work and to take care of a family, so they’re taking online courses. So I feel blessed that I’m able to help those students to advance their degree and to get their degree because you’ll be surprised…I’ve heard [so many] in my online course say, “You know, I’ve been trying to get my degree for years. I just haven’t been able to. I ended up having a family and got promoted, got my job, but now I really need my degree.” So…I’m glad I can help them.

When you’re not at school, what do you like to do in your free time?

I’m happy now because I have my grandkids. So, I’m hanging with my grandkids. I learned to play pickleball last summer! Yeah! So my husband and I have been on some pickleball teams, so we’re getting better, but I miss tennis. People are so weird playing pickleball. I mean, I’ve played tennis practically my whole life, and I don’t know. They think they’re like champions or something. So weird! So yeah, we play pickleball. You know, we’re near the beach so we do that. We read. I’m trying to get back into writing…I’m trying to find the time. I need to carve out the time and get myself more disciplined.

What do you like about living on the seacoast in Maine?

[My husband and I] love the ocean. You know, we lived here in Hollis for 25 years, or 26 years. It was a great place to raise our kids, our kids love it here. But, you know, they moved out. One of our sons moved up to the seacoast, we have one in Utah, another daughter in Boston. So we wanted to live near the ocean and we’re happy, so we’re psyched about that. But we’re gonna be snowbirds, so we’ll be spending part of the year probably down someplace south to get away from the snow [for] part of the year. So we’re happy.

You can find Salamone in her cozy and well-decorated classroom where she teaches Accelerated English 9, Writing, College Composition and World Literature. In the wise words of Adair, “Bottom line, take any class that she teaches.”

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About the Contributor
Finn Brown
Finn Brown, Head Editor

Finn Brown ‘25 is a first-year journalism student and is excited to start writing for the CavChron! Finn has served as Class President for two years and enjoys creating fun activities for the HB community. He is looking forward to exploring the world of journalism and experimenting with all types of articles.

Outside of the classroom, Finn enjoys playing tennis and has played for the HB team for two years. Additionally, he has participated as a partner for Unified Soccer for three years and has been a member of the Red Cross Club for two years. In his free time, Finn likes going to the movies, walking, and spending time with friends. Awards: Best of SNO - Maggie Rogers Reflects on ‘Don’t Forget Me’

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    AnonymousDec 1, 2023 at 10:09 am The CavChron Pick

    This article changed my life. Bravo Finn!