Mrs. Famili’s Parting Words
by Elana Golub on Friday, June 8th, 201225 years ago, Lida Famili was just an extracurricular tutor to a Milton student. Now, retiring to assist her family after a fulfilling career as a veteran chemistry teacher, the beloved Ms. Famili reflects on how this profession has shaped and supported her to become the person she is today.
Ms. Famili was first introduced to the Milton community by one of her students. Having noticed her resume on the table, the boy she had been tutoring informed her that his chemistry teacher intended to retire, and that he would be glad to show her resume to his father, who would bring it to the Chair of the Science Department. Shortly afterwards, Ms. Famili was offered an interview and soon a position to teach at Milton Academy in September of the upcoming year.
Since then, Ms. Famili has grown to become a respected and experienced teacher who has never regretted her career choice. “I loved every minute in these 25 years, every moment,” she says. “There wasn’t one moment where I wasn’t happy.”
In reminiscing on her teaching at Milton, Ms. Famili said that the time when she “was of [greatest] help to the community was the time when conflict came.”
She encountered her first challenge when she had assigned two very dissimilar girls to be lab partners. Unable to put aside their differences, the girls approached Ms. Famili asking to exchange partners with another group. “One of the girls, right in front of the other one, said, ‘I really hate her. I don’t want to work with her, I don’t want to see her, I don’t want to talk to her,’” remembered Ms. Famili. “That was probably the first time in my life I cried at this school.” Viewing herself as bearing responsibility for this hatred, Ms. Famili “worked privately with these two girls until they could at least talk to each other” by the end of the year, a process that was “glorious” for her.
This experience was the first of a few conflicts that Ms. Famili mediated during her time at Milton, one of which involved two clubs escalating a heated debate into a hurtful argument; Ms. Famili’s process of negotiation, however, has always led to a neutral settlement.
“I [will tell] [the students] that it doesn’t matter who they are or what ideals they have, [they] are my students and I love every one of [them].” Ms. Famili continues to remind herself of “how lucky [she is] to be with such a great group of kids.”
The fact that a student presented Ms. Famili with a career opportunity foreshadowed the bulk of her Milton Academy experience. Ms. Famili insists that Milton’s student body has been her support system through her years of teaching. “Being exposed to so many wonderful students and teachers made me hope to become a better person,” she says. “I love the kids at this school.”
This feeling of love proves mutual between Ms. Famili and her students. “It’s hard to find a teacher who you know is always looking out for you emotionally as well as academically,” stated Amy Kerr (III). “Ms. Famili does exactly that.”
So what comes next? Ms. Famili is returning home to help raise and take care of her grandchildren full time. Despite her excitement for spending ample time with her family and her understanding that she “is at the age where it is the right time to retire,” Ms. Famili admits she is going to miss her job. “Although I was teaching chemistry, I was really just being with the kids,” said Ms. Famili.
“In my old age, I understand that you are not really teaching them, but you are just supporting them to become whoever they are, not who you want them to be. I just wanted to be there for the kids…that was my goal.”
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