Mrs. Banderob Leaves Lasting Legacy at Milton after 38 Years
by Emily Jiang on Friday, April 29th, 2016
As seniors prepare for their bittersweet departure from Milton, so too are a few faculty members. Most of the retiring faculty, however, have a few more years to reminisce upon compared to seniors: 38 more years, in Mrs. Erica Banderob’s case.
Mrs. Banderob and her husband, Mr. Banderob, came to Milton in 1978 when Ms. Banderob was 25. Currently an Algebra II teacher, Algebra II Foundations teacher, and Robbins House Head, Ms. Banderob is fundamentally woven into the lives of countless members of the Milton community. Ms. Bargar, a fellow math teacher and friend, says Ms. Banderob “seriously knows everything, past and present – we actually sometimes refer to her as ‘Chief Information Officer.’”
While Ms. Banderob has a wealth of knowledge for anyone to draw from, many of her most valued qualities shine in the small setting of a classroom. Ms. Sugrue, the Math Department Chair, comments that “As a teacher, no one has more patience than Ms. Banderob.” Jerome Vainisi (III), one of Ms. Banderob’s Algebra 2 students, says, “She is the best teacher I’ve ever had. I’ve learned more about math this year than in any other year of my life.” Sophie Cloherty (I) Another student of Ms. Bandrob’s through the years adds that Ms. Banderob’s Ms. Banderob notes, “My favorite part of teaching is the relationship I have with classes. I teach one math class this year, a really little class…every day I walk in there and I feel like the kids really like me and they know that I really like them, and when that happens it’s just a magic feeling.”
But don’t let Ms. Banderob’s happy-as-a-clam attitude toward her classes fool you into thinking she always goes with the flow. In fact, she is an activist of sorts within the Math Department. Ms. Sugrue finds Ms. Banderob’s ability to “share constructive criticism in an incredibly thoughtful way” remarkable. Ms. Banderob claims, “I am often the voice for trying to urge my colleagues to think about our impact on kids, to make sure we’re following rules about homework and length of assignments. There are probably colleagues who groan when I speak because they know what I’m going to say, but, in a way, I don’t care. Because it’s so important to me that we continue to think about a kid’s whole life, and not just [our respective] subjects.”
While she is seen as a math teacher to most, Ms. Banderob’s role in the Milton community is by no means singular. Her widespread knowledge and caring personality carry over to her position as a Robbins dorm head. Robbins member Jiyoung Jeong (I) says Ms. Banderob is “the heart of the dorm.” Sophie Edouard (II), who also lives in Robbins, says “Ms. Banderob has MADE my boarding experience.” Edouard expresses her appreciation for Ms. Banderob’s thoughtfulness, saying, “She always knows to leave enough Reese’s in her candy bowl just for me.”
A common trend in colleagues’, students’, and dorm members’ comments were along the lines of Ms. Bargar’s words: “I’ve never seen Erica happier than when sharing in a student’s glee, prouder than when those in her dorm get their chance to shine, or more upset than when something goes wrong in a way that affects the student body.”
Ms. Banderob’s reflection on her own values doesn’t stray too far from these remarks. She says, “When people ask me, ‘What are you going to miss? What are you not going to miss?’ I say I’m going to miss the kids 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th… My husband and I have made mental lists of things that drive us crazy and things that we really care about, and there’s not one ‘kid thing’ on the drive-us-crazy list.”
With so many years spent here, watching as people file in and out of the school, Ms. Banderob reflects on nearly four decades’ worth of changes at Milton. She compares the awkward formality between boys and girls when Milton was separated by gender to the fluidity, diversity, and cooperation between students now in a coeducational environment. Ms. Banderob also notes that “there is so much more stress for Milton students today than there was even a few years ago. It is really hard to watch kids deal with this, and I worry about them and the toll it is taking on so many of them.”
Looking toward the future, Ms. Banderob most anticipates “not having such a scheduled life.” However, she also notes that “to think about a life where [Mr. Banderob and I] can basically do anything we want at any point without really thinking about anybody except each other…that’s sort of scary.”
Not only has Ms. Banderob left her mark on Milton, but so has Milton on her. She says she’s learned “how wonderful this kind of work can be and how important it is to know every day that you’re really happy to be doing what you’re doing. And to feel that what I’m doing has made a difference.” Just a small fraction of words from a small fraction of those who know Ms. Banderob prove that she most certainly has.
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