Teacher and instructional coach Patricia Payne bids farewell to ETHS


English as a Second Language teacher and instructional coach Patricia Payne retires from ETHS after three decades.

After nearly 31 years of teaching, ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher and Instructional Coach Patricia Payne is retiring. With her upcoming retirement, Payne recalled her best memory from ETHS.

I was able to give a Senior Award to a student who I had had for all four years. She had never been to school before she arrived at ETHS, and she made tremendous progress. She couldn’t read and write in any language when she was a freshman, and by the time she had graduated, she had made eight or nine years of progress,” Payne explained. “I never saw anything like her resilience and determination in my life. It was my privilege to work with her. Today, she is a registered nurse and mother of two.”  

As an ESL teacher, Payne often teaches students who immigrated or do not speak English at home. Payne feels that this work is very rewarding and something she will greatly miss. She feels her students have made her a better teacher and person. 

“I’m an ESL teacher. I have the whole world in my classroom every day, and I’m not going to have it anymore,” Payne said. “But, as teachers, I feel like we fail in some way every day, and we have to get right back up, because we have to teach a lot of people and get along with a lot of personalities.”

To others in the World Languages Department, Payne is the epitome of a dedicated teacher, as well as a lifelong learner. 

Ms. Payne is a caring, enthusiastic, dedicated teacher.  She is a lifelong learner, even taking Polish classes at night,” World Languages Department Chair Rachel D’Onofrio explained. “When students are in person, they congregate in her classroom during AM Support, between classes and after school.”

Additionally, having taught at ETHS for many years, Payne saw ETHS establish foundational aspects of certain equity movements and is worried that she will have a harder time engaging in this learning without ETHS to guide her. 

“[Something] I’ve been worried about [is] that I won’t have access to once I leave ETHS is talking about race relations, how we can be better and how we can be more aware. I’m going to have to do that on my own now,” Payne said.

Payne also explained that she will miss learning through ETHS’ equity initiatives and that she believes ETHS’ commitment to bettering the community is extremely valuable to both students and staff. 

“I think ETHS is a microcosm of the country. We’re like this mini-United States, and I think that one of the things that ETHS does is they recognize that,” Payne said. “[But] I think part of our national character is that we try to do better, and I think ETHS always tries to do better.” 

While Payne is not sure what’s next for her as she retires, she will stay involved in the ETHS community through a learning initiative that she helped start to offer additional support to students learning English. 

“I will still be working a little bit with ETHS,” Payne said. “But with COVID I’m planning on a ‘gap year’ and seeing what happens. I just don’t know what my life will be like without teaching.”