Don’t judge a book by its cover

With a needle in one hand and yarn in the other, Suzana Duby maneuvers her fingers in a steady and confident manner. Colorful stitches appear at the end of her yarn as she moves her needle swiftly through. It’s her favorite part of the day; she unwinds at home with her family after hours of teaching AP Lang, English II and English III  at West Essex High School.

With a bachelor’s degree in English from Columbia University and a master’s in Reading from Montclair State, Duby used her educational training to teach in Newark, Maplewood, and Paterson in the past. She took a break from teaching, however, and became a lawyer for 16 years, with a law degree from Rutgers University. Although she said the long hours and constant travel did not work for in the long-run, Duby felt that she would regret not exploring that career path. 

“I decided that I wanted to enjoy the last few years with my kids before they go to college so I chose to leave,” Duby said.  

Not only does Duby love to knit and spend time with her family, but she always finds pleasure in reading a book, no matter how many times she has previously read it. 

“My favorite thing is reading my favorite books over and over again,” she said. “Every time you read a book, there’s always something different in it.” 

Her passion for English, as well as teaching, is evident as she does everything in her power to help students understand the subject since many of them seem to struggle with it. She accomplishes this by running what she described as a student-centered class, which allows students to interact with each other, reach their full potential and improve their writing.

“Students are very visually oriented now,” Duby said. “You have phones and computers and Netflix and actually getting engrossed in the written word in a book is difficult. I think when you don’t do that, like anything if you don’t practice it, you get rusty.  So I think part of the problem is that students have other activities that keep them occupied that they feel are more interesting than reading a book.”

In the bigger picture, Duby said she empathizes with her students because she understands what they are going through since she has teenage children of her own. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Duby said. “High school students now, you have so much pressure on you. You have so many activities and between that and school and work and families. I think it’s really important for students to be advocates for themselves and ask for help when they need it.”

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