Briarcliff High School math teacher and Assistant Varsity Girls Lacrosse Coach Ellen Mager is retiring this year. We caught up with her to find out what advice she has for students and teachers, her most memorable moments, and her plans for retirement.
Q: How long have you been a teacher at the school, what grade/subject and where did you teach before?
A: I have been at Briarcliff for 15 years. I am the math department coordinator and I teach Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus. I came from Croton-Harmon High School where I was an assistant principal, and prior to that I was at Yorktown High School where I was a teacher and the math department coordinator.
Q: What are some memorable moments from your career at the school?
A: I received a text recently from a former student which jogged my memory about a class in which we learned the definition of integrity. I love the moments when the students perform at a higher level than they ever imagined. Lastly, a memorable moment for me was attending the section finals in multiple sports whether as a coach or spectator, and being a part of an amazing community of students, colleagues and families.
Q: Do you have any advice to offer to a teacher starting out?
A: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions, create a style of teaching that works for you, that you believe in, and lastly, do not be afraid to hold students accountable – it is the greatest gift you can give them.
Q: What are your plans for retirement?
A: My plans are not particularly clear – to have the flexibility to travel during less expensive times, to be available to family as needed, to continue to coach club lacrosse, tutor, possibly do some subbing, and eventually to settle into another job in which I can help others by doing something different.
Q: If you can pass any wisdom to your students what would it be?
A: The future of our country is in your hands. Work to create the world you want to live in – don’t expect others to do it for you. Show up! Focus on today and do not be overwhelmed by tomorrow, your best self is enough, and don’t be afraid to ask for help – you are never alone.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: “Six months from now you will either have six months of excuses or six months of progress. The choice is yours.”