Our Very Own Hero
Submitted by Abigail Tawiah (Vocalist Class of 2017)
If you have ever had a Spanish class with Sr. Tabegna, then you know how strenuous and mind-altering it can be. In his class, I think it’s safe to say that you can run, but you can’t hide. There’s no denying the sheer dedication that goes into every lesson.
My first encounter with his class was like no other classroom experience. I was stunned. I wasn’t used to a teacher showing as much enthusiasm as he did. He was just this huge ball of energy bouncing around the class, correcting people left and right, and commanding each and every student’s attention. There’s no doubt that he is good at what he does. Maybe too good.
Junior actress, Ifetayo Kitwala, recalled a time during her freshman year in Sra. Kradz’s class when Sr. Tabegna subbed during an absence. “I was terrified of him. He was so vibrant and he spoke really fast. It was just a personality that I wasn’t used to.” She went on to say, “I had him the following year and completely fell in love with his class. Even though Spanish is one of my hardest classes, he was very supportive. And even though I was terrified of him, he definitely made me feel welcome. He pushed you to a standard that he knew you could live up to.”
Even students that have never had his class understand how prodigious he and his class are. “I heard that he is a very thorough teacher, but he gives a lot of work and he pushes you. But at the same time, through that push, you’re able to gain a lot and learn from your mistakes,” said Sarah Collins, another junior actress.
Junior singer, William Hornby, also had a lot to say about Sr. Tabegna’s class. “ I see what people were talking about with the overload of work, but it doesn’t bother me. I have never had a teacher who is so extremely passionate about what they do. A lot of the teachers here are so dedicated and Sr. Tabegna fits perfectly into that category.”
There’s no doubt that one of the things that make Tabegna’s lessons so captivating is the one and only Don Rogelio. Don Rogelio is a fierce, true-blue storm that comes out when that classroom door closes. “It’s unheard of and completely unique to his teaching style,” said Will Hornby.
Sr. Tabegna asserted that Rogelio was created to both entertain and educate his students in an efficient manner. “I’m sure there are students that are bored in my class all the time, but I do everything that I can humanly do so that that doesn’t happen.”
“He is a teacher extraordinaire. I think that he is the ultimate professional,” said Ruth Gladney, an English teacher here in the school.
It is safe to say that Tabegna is truly amazing when so many people agree. But I think, sometimes, it’s hard to think of teachers as actual people, who have lives and problems outside of school. When the faculty and students learned of his condition in early September, we were shocked. It was hard to believe that this incredible man was not as invincible as he seemed. There wasn’t a person in the school that didn’t have Sr. Tabegna in their hearts or minds.
“When he got sick I was devastated,” recollected Ms. Gladney. “When I first came to Baltimore School for the Arts in 1984, he was the very first teacher that I met. In fact I remember asking him: ‘Are you a student here?’, and he looked at me so funny, so perplexed, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
“I was overwhelmed and blown away by the support. I told some friends of mine that I felt as though I had died and got to come back and hear my eulogies,” recalled Sr. Tabegna.
We were all overjoyed when he finally returned and were glad to have him back in the classroom. “I am so, so very thankful that he is back on his feet, in the classroom and doing the things that he loves,” said Ms. Gladney. Although we are all relieved that he is back, we can’t forget that he is still human and taking things one day at a time.
No matter how hard he can be on us all, we love and appreciate him and are so lucky to have him as a teacher here at the school.