Terrier Times

History Teacher Brings Passion And Pep To The Classroom

E. Parker, Opinions Editor

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Take a trip to the basement and you’re bound to find Mrs. Blazejowski standing in front of Room A014. She has been a part of our school since the Class of 2000-2001.

Born in Holyoke, raised in Chicopee, and settling in Springfield, it’s safe to say that Mrs. Blaze has been around. Her motivation for teaching came from her family tree. “Teaching is in my family,” said Mrs. Blaze, “It started with my Great-Grandmother (maternal) and got passed down. My sister even became a teacher as well.” She remembers her paternal grandfather visiting every Sunday and checking her homework. She also remembers her maternal grandfather, who was a veteran, telling her stories about his life as an Air Force intelligence officer during the Korean War.

However, the road to teaching at West Side was not a direct route. Mrs. Blaze revealed that her first job was selling shoes at a mall in high school. In the years following, she eventually transitioned to many different jobs during her time in college. Starting off as a Sears Children’s Department employee, Blaze later took on the role of a camp counselor and coached the JV cheerleading team in Chicopee.  

Students who have taken one of her courses know that her positive attitude towards teaching, and famous cheers are central to her classroom. When it comes to class, Mrs. Blazejowski is known to let her voice be heard. “I use a loud voice if necessary, but I can’t help my enthusiasm with students learning well or sharing new ideas, they’re just spontaneous reactions to something going good in class,” she said.  Mrs. Blaze’s background as a cheerleader in high school can be attributed to this. She was a cheerleader for the Chicopee High Pacers for all four years of high school and affirms that it is definitely a sport. “Cheerleading requires physical activity and competition, which is the definition of a sport.” She ended her high school cheerleading career as a hardcore state champion and a national semi-finalist. “Cheer taught me discipline, hard work, to smile through anything, and to have a loud voice.”

At the same time, her family’s beliefs in hard-work and dedication pushed her toward studying more to eventually become the Class of 1995’s valedictorian.

Mrs. Blaze was attracted to history because she “always liked the storytelling.” In college, her interests grew in the social aspects and activism. This motivated her to take more college courses which focused on specific historical periods. Courses centered around American Slavery, Native Americans, and the Holocaust are examples of her selected courses. Mrs. Blaze recalls her several college professors, who were very engaging and enthusiastic, as one of her motivations for teaching history. She would eventually gain her bachelors degree in history at Mount Holyoke College and later on attend Umass Amherst for a masters in education.

Today, Mrs. Blazejowski is happy with her career choice.  “I enjoy my job, which is something not many people can say. I look forward to some form of interaction with the students, it’s meaningful and we have just good times overall. The best memories are when the students come back just to say that ‘you’ve helped me succeed in life.’” Her main focus isn’t to keep reinventing new ways to teach; instead, she wants to “provide an environment where students enjoy learning both academic and life skills.” The students are truly her favorite thing about working here, plus the added benefit of being a member of the History Department. “They’re like my second family of brothers and sisters,” she exclaimed. “We’ve implemented things like the History and Heritage Faire with the help of the whole department, where we co-host with the ELL departments.”

Her students recall one of her memorable class projects which is similar to the History and Heritage fair. It involves creating a poster where each student explains and introduces their heritage and their family’s history to the other students. She claims that the project comes from the idea of self-actualization, which describes that a person truly knows who they are and see their best potential. Being proud of her own Irish roots, she feels that knowing history, your own heritage, plus your strengths and weaknesses helps you get further to reach the best version of yourself. Mrs. Blaze aims to convey this message to her students through a project they can enjoy because she feels that “someone who is accepting of their culture and heritage with history is important, because it all combines together.”

Therefore, we at the Terrier Times want to give a shoutout to Mrs. Blazejowski for her contribution to the history department as well as her involvement with the students, and the joyful spirit she brings to West Side. She will always be remembered for her enthusiastic teaching style, and she is truly one of a kind.

 

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History Teacher Brings Passion And Pep To The Classroom