Every Barrack student that has attended since middle school remembers sixth grade. It’s a year filled with uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. However, for those blessed enough to have had her as a teacher, it was also a year filled with Mrs. Judith Pransky, which truly made all the difference.
Personally, I remember my sixth grade year with Mrs. Pransky vividly. From day one, she was warm, inviting, and inclusive. She transformed her classroom into a second home, an oasis in a large, intimidating, and unfamiliar school. She taught us in engaging, intriguing ways, opened our minds to new perspectives and possibilities, and helped us navigate the overwhelming frenzy of sixth grade with grace and poise. We learned to write expressively, to read analytically, to think critically, to collaborate with others, and to perform. We might not have realized it then, but Mrs. Pransky taught us how to be students.
Mrs. Pransky’s classroom provided a unique, unforgettable backdrop to my first year at Barrack. Every former sixth grader with the privilege of being in her class remembers the thrill of dressing up for their first Book Talk, the mystery of Artifact Alley, the wonder of learning to make papyrus, the fervent frenzy of compiling memory binders, and, of course, the delight of culminating a unit in an intense game of Ancient Civilization Jeopardy. Mrs. Pransky took us on a compelling, wild, and exciting ride through sixth grade, engaging us in the material and easing our transition into middle school. The activities of that year, and the person who invented them, paved the way for my and others’ success at Barrack.
Furthermore, Mrs. Pransky devoted much time and effort into developing our characters. Sixth graders can be immature, disrespectful, and, above all, loud. But Mrs. Pransky had an astounding ability to instill in us, as immature and disrespectful as we were, the values of kindness, caring, responsibility, generosity, and inclusion. She showed us how to work together, to be kind towards one another, and to show compassion. Core was not Mrs. Pransky’s only area of expertise; she taught us invaluable life lessons as well.
Although Mrs. Pransky achieved incredible feats as a Core teacher for 19 years, it would be short-sighted to discuss her successes in the classroom while overlooking her other accomplishments at Barrack. Mrs. Pransky served as the faculty advisor for the Cougar Chronicle, our beloved school newspaper, for 21 years. She worked constantly and tirelessly, reading and fact-checking every article, providing personalized, precise edits, helping to run weekly meetings, and ensuring that every aspect of the Chronicle operated smoothly and upheld Barrack’s values. Not only did she enable the newspaper’s success, but she also provided every writer, editor, and layout designer with support and advice. After working with Mrs. Pransky, each Chronicle staff member could become more eloquent, educated, confident, and self-sufficient. These are gifts that last a lifetime.
Mrs. Pransky is transitioning from teaching to full-time fiction writing. She has already published the Mister Lister series for the younger grades, and The Seventh Handmaiden, a young adult novel. So although she will no longer be teaching in a classroom, there will be countless lessons to learn from her books for years to come.
Mrs. Pransky, thank you so much for all that you have done. You truly have touched the lives of every single student that has had the privilege to know you; you have opened our hearts to newfound knowledge, newfound love of learning, and, most importantly, newfound belief in ourselves. You have seen something special in each of us, igniting in us a passion for education. Your students will remember you for the rest of their lives. This school will forever be indebted to you -- you will truly be missed more than we can ever say. Mrs. Pransky, Barrack will never, ever, be the same without you, and your dedication and incredible efforts will never be forgotten. Thank you, thank you, thank you.