Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer helping students navigate the world through literature

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Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer helping students navigate the world through literature

Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer posed at her desk in room K128.

Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer posed at her desk in room K128.

Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer posed at her desk in room K128.

Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer posed at her desk in room K128.

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TOWAMENCIN- Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer knew she wanted to pursue a career in high school English since seventh grade. Her passion for literature continued to grow as she entered high school and college, but Weizer never imagined the place she would walk into every day for work would be North Penn High School. 

Weizer grew up in North Wales, Pennsylvania, and graduated from North Penn in 2000.  Her mother worked at Pennbrook Middle School as a health and physical education teacher. NPSD has always been a part of Weizer’s family.

“I never anticipated ever teaching here. I loved my time in high school and I had amazing teachers, but I would say that it was never my dream to teach here, but as I tell my students, ‘never say never,” laughed Weizer. 

This year is Weizer’s 15th year teaching at North Penn. Weizer teaches eleventh-grade Honors English, Magazine Journalism, and Women’s Voices. Weizer approaches all of the courses she teaches with a similar strategy. 

The first day you step into a classroom and connect with young people I think can be more important than the content [of a class]. I know not every teacher would agree with that, but for me making connections with kids is at the heart of what I do,”

— Mrs. Elizabeth Weizer - NPHS English Teacher

“The first day you step into a classroom and connect with young people I think can be more important than the content [of a class]. I know not every teacher would agree with that, but for me making connections with kids is at the heart of what I do,” explained Weizer.

Weizer recognizes that through literature and being a mentor, she can help students navigate the world around them. The first step in that process is building a genuine connection with students.

“I know I’ve been in a class where I was terrified of the teacher, I didn’t know anybody, so I just sat silently, and I don’t know how much I got out of it. I think some people might look at my approach as being not as academically rigorous. I would disagree because I think that in creating the environment I do, we can become comfortable having higher-level discussion and wrestling with difficult ideas,” added Weizer. 

Weizer uses her experiences in high school as tools to improve the atmosphere in her classes, specifically in Magazine Journalism. This course allows students to design and create each class yearbook.

“I think yearbook has the stigma, or it at least did when I was in high school, of being only popular, cool kids on the staff, and they only put pictures of their friends in the yearbook. When I took over as the adviser, one of my goals is and continues to be to make it a book for the school. Hopefully, every kid can open it and see themselves somewhere,” said Weizer. 

Weizer was the yearbook adviser from 2008-2013. In the 2018-2019 school year, she returned as the yearbook adviser after taking a break to have her first son. Weizer has a five-year-old son and a five-month-old son. Her life as a mother has translated into her teaching, especially in her Women’s Voices class.

“The topics [in Women’s Voices] can be a little tough to talk about and controversial, but it creates a really cool community and environment where everybody, my hope at least, feels comfortable sharing and talking about things. My mantra is ‘if we can’t talk about stuff, we can’t deal with it. My job is to help [students] figure out how to navigate the world, and I can do that through literature,” described Weizer.

Weizer encounters obstacles as a working mom, but she tries to use her experiences to inform her students in Women’s Voices about the daily struggles women face today.

“My sister is a stay at home mom and she and I have the same conversation and feelings. You are always wondering ‘Am I doing the right thing and am I making the right choices for my kids.’ Nobody prepared me to feel that way and I talk about that in my Women’s Voices class,” said Weizer. 

Women have always faced struggles in society and Women’s Voices shines a light on the voice that has been overshadowed throughout history. 

“My mom is a strong independent feminist. I have two amazing sisters that are really strong. I’ve been lucky that I’ve been surrounded by strong women, and I know that not all of our students have that kind of support. I hope that through literature, you can read about a character and see how she deals with the world and say ‘okay this is an interesting option’ and apply those things to your life,” described Weizer.

Weizer emphasizes that Women’s Voices is a class all students should consider taking. This year, she has more male students in the class than ever before. 

“[Women] have all had those moments where someone said something really sexist, and I think it’s important for guys to hear that. I tell [guys] that ‘you love a woman. Whether it’s your mom, your sister, your aunt, your grandmom. Or you marry a woman or have a daughter.’ There is a woman in your life that you love and you need to understand that our experience in the world is different than yours.” said Weizer.

Each year, the number of students enrolled in Women Voices grows with more students interested in hearing a different perspective in literature. 

“We have been listening to men for thousands of years. We have heard their voices. We appreciate their voices. Now it is time to hear somebody else’s voice,” added Weizer. 

It is not too often that people can say that a class changed their life. For Weizer, her Women’s Voices class has allowed her to tap into her life as a mother and feminist to encourage students to become the best version of themselves. 

“I used to think strength was ‘I got this. I don’t need any help.’ You know having that kind of stoicism and that wall. Really strength is being vulnerable and being able to share your true self, which I think is hard for a lot of people. I think that is really my passion, bringing that to young women. To let them know that you can do anything, and you have the strength and the tenderness to do it all,” said Weizer. 

Weizer believes she can help students navigate the world through being informed about difficult subjects, and Weizer can accomplish that through the art of literature. 

 

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