Katie Fletcher ’21

Emma Reilly, Section Editor

Q: What are the first words that come to mind when you think of Ms. Frank?


A: So, the first one is kind, like the kindest and most purely good person I’ve ever met. And also, she was hilarious. We had the exact same sense of humor. Roman authors often had underlying themes that were not necessarily appropriate for school. And so we didn’t talk about them in class, but we can kind of just tell [what] they were; a lot of them are like metaphors and stuff that we just didn’t mention. But she knew when I noticed them, because I would start laughing, cause that’s just the way that I am. And she would look at me as you go, “you’re a horrible person, stop laughing,” of course, in a joking way. And that’s just the way her humor was.


She had nicknames for all of us. She called me a “Drama Queen”, because I, you know, have a flair for the dramatic and, you know, tell stories in a very colorful way. She called Michael Cui “Patient Zero,” because during freshman year, he got sick like four times and then got everybody else in our class sick four times, which now during Corona sounds terrifying, but at the time, it was just pretty funny because like colds and stuff. She called Charlotte (Graham) “Loser” and I don’t know where that came from. It’s more funny because she probably had one of the highest grades in our class and is one of those dedicated people you’ll ever meet so like the opposite of a loser. And so all of her jokes were that kind of like, teasing, kind of, you know, poking fun at everybody kind of way, but in a way that she knew and we knew that it was all out of love. There was never any meanness, or cruelty in anything she said. And she would often make a joke and be like, “Are you okay? Was that okay?” and we would always be like, “Yes, of course,” because we all knew how much she loved us. And that it was made clear by everything in our daily lives.


Her room was where most of us lived our junior year. She had Snuggies in her cupboard that we could borrow and I took so many naps in there. She would listen to us vent. And she reached out to us when she could tell we were struggling and she would talk to each of us individually about our lives. And I’ve never had a teacher who cared so much for every single one of your students individually as she does or as she did. If somebody in my class was having a hard time and I was talking to her about something else, she would ask me to check and make sure they were okay. Her concern for everybody else was astounding. She cared so much for everybody around her. And like the first day of my freshman year, she told us that, you know, she doesn’t care how smart we are, she doesn’t care how well we do on tests, or how talented we are, who our friends are, how popular we are, if we aren’t kind to each other in that room every single day then she doesn’t want us in her classroom. She said it in a way that was like kindness is the most important thing and she would not tolerate anything less than that. And she’ll hold us to a very high standard of that. I remember a couple times where we were being a bit snotty to each other and she was like, “Guys, what did I tell you the first day like, this is a kind place, this is a safe place and, you know, the way you’re talking to each other right now is unacceptable. And we need to move on from it.” And it was always said in such a supportive and loving way that even when, like if she was saying that to me, I felt like she was looking out for me and wanting me to be my best self like she made all of us want to be our best selves because of her example of kindness and goodness. 


And that’s one of the biggest things that I learned from her is just how important it is to be kind and to be good to other people. Because that Latin group of people, that Latin family that I have are some of my closest friends and have been [some] of my biggest supporters; that community in that room being there with her and all of them like that. The family that she built out of her pillars of what it means to be a family, that is what got me through some really, really dark times, personally, and I know that I would not have come as far in recovery from those things without her. So I have her to thank for a lot of, you know, my personal happiness, which is crazy to think about the one person who did that, but she did. And she knew that she did, I told her that I told my entire class that they all knew that they saved me, essentially. 


Q: What is your favorite memory of Ms. Frank?


A: There’s so many. I mean, I just have a lot of memories of her laughing and for me, some of the most important stuff to remember are specific moments. Hearing her voice in my head still and those [types of] things, and I can remember her laugh very clearly. The day that I thanked my class for all that they did for me, I remember her looking at me, and it looked like she was about to tear up. And that was a really, really sweet and really touching moment. I remember making eye contact with her, when I would make a dirty joke subtly and we both just started laughing and everybody else was like, “What are you laughing about?” Those moments where we felt like we both noticed inside jokes in text that, you know, had that shared sense of humor that made us both laugh. Like, we would just make eye contact in the middle of a translation and just burst out laughing because of something the author did. I love those memories. Or she would like look at me when I was laughing at something stupid, and she’d be like, “Oh my god, shut up. Stop it! Don’t laugh at that,” and I’d be like, “It’s funny,” and she’d be like, “How old are you? 12?”. There’s many, many memories of us laughing together. And that’s one of the most important things for me. 


Q: What was your favorite story Ms. Frank told you about her life?


Yeah, so when she was in high school, she was with a group of friends and they were in rural areas and so they went around one night in high school, and like stole street signs. And

they thought it was so funny and then she felt so bad, she went and put them back, which is very on brand for her. But then another one was a story about her working on a farm during high school in the summers. And there was a guy who came to her farm once because they sold him animals for slaughter. And he came to get an animal and he wanted to kill it himself. And she had to be there. So he was there with this animal, about to kill it and he was trying to like get her to be engaged to either him or his son. I can’t remember. But she was in like high school and he was trying to marry her off to somebody while literally killing an animal. So just like random marriage proposals while she was just at work. That was pretty funny.


Q: How do you feel she impacted your life?

A: The Latin program has been shaped by her. She was here for like, 13 years, I want to say like, a really long time. And, you know, she created this family that, you know, everybody’s so supportive of each other, and everybody loves each other. I love Latin, but I think I love Latin, largely because of her. Like, I don’t know how passionate I would be about the language itself without her, showing us how passionate someone can be about latin. She loved it. And we all dove into these stories wholeheartedly; we all love them. And, you know, every day, I could go into that room and know that there would be nobody in there who would judge me. There were no times that I ever had to feel like I was weird, or different because everybody since freshman year. We’ve all just been together as a family working through these really hard texts together. And when, you know, personal situations got pretty bad. That was where I never felt weird or bad for feeling not okay, like, she made it very clear that it was okay to not be okay. And everybody in that room was okay with me not being okay. And it wasn’t like, there was never pity, which it made me feel really safe, because I could be in that room. And some days, I just needed to cry, and I would  run to the bathroom, and take a minute, go to the bathroom, come back, and I would go on cry, come back, everyone just be like, “Okay, now we’re gonna, like, keep going.” And it was very supportive. And she would ask me if I was okay, and talk to me and whatever, and be very supportive. But there was never any pity or that I was weird or crazy or different. Like it was just that I needed extra support, you know, and the best thing I could have asked for is not feeling different and feeling like all these people love me, regardless of that. And she created that [environment]. She led that and without them and without her. Like I said before, I don’t know if I would have recovered as well as I did. So that’s, that’s the biggest thing. 


Q: Do you have any last comments that you want to make?


A: I’m very lucky that I come from a family that’s very supportive of my identity and stuff. But I know she had a lot of students who didn’t necessarily get that from home. In addition to being […] emotionally safe, and like a familial place, [the Latin room] also was a haven for any and all LGBTQ students that she had. And that is, I know, from talking to my friends, and talking to people who experienced that safety with her like, has made all the difference in their high school experience. It’s like having an adult who respects and loves who they are, especially when they don’t even get that from their own parents who made high school survival. That is something that is so precious to have. And it was like an unapologetic, open love and support. And you know, it all had to do with that kindness and that “we won’t tolerate being mean” [environment]. And part of that was everybody in here needs to be accepted for who they are. And we all didn’t even have to be [a certain] sexuality or gender identity; anything that made anybody’s different, whether it be ethnicity or gender or sexuality or family background or anything. You know, she made it very clear that everybody is accepted for who they are, and that anything else would not be tolerated. And so we could all make jokes about whatever was going on in our lives. We make jokes about any hardship that we face or discrimination I think, and we could all laugh about it. She helped us laugh through some of the hardest things in our lives. Like to laugh and be loved in some of our darkest times, that’s something that is really hard to find a balance for and she did it flawlessly.


She also let us help her too, which I think is really rare. It’s hard to know where the line is, especially with a teacher, because you don’t want to overstep, but especially towards the end, when she was on campus before spring break, we would sometimes just take days where she could just, you know, sit and chill and try to rest a little bit. […] It shows the dedication that she stayed for as long as she did, because she tried not to show us and didn’t tell us that she was in a lot of pain, a lot of times, and then she let us be there for her. We would get her her food and get her water. When she had some pain in certain areas, like her shoulders or whatever she would let us try to help her work out the pain because she couldn’t necessarily do a lot about themselves. I brought her cookies over the summer because she was in isolation, and she was feeling lonely, and you know, all these things for a very personal relationship, but in a way that never never felt weird. Like it was all very natural. 


I wish that I could have gone into adulthood and had a relationship with her or I could learn more about her as a human and not just my teacher. But she was so cool. It wasn’t appropriate as a student to be her friend, but it was something that I was really looking forward to as an adult to be able to come back and get to know her more because she did so much for all of us and was so involved in our lives and she deserved all of that back and more. I really wanted that. She knew that I appreciated it. I appreciated all that she had done and I wanted to give that back to her. All of us are going to miss out on giving back to her as we grow older.


She knew how much we all loved her. And we would tell her all the time. Every time I’d leave her room, I was like, “Bye Ms. Frank, I love you,” and she would say “I love you” back. And I can remember her saying that really clearly.