Alumna Feature: Mrs. Wanner


Mrs. Wanner with the three other teachers that created the Quarantine Diaries.

Seven years at Montrose, four in college, then back to Montrose. This has been the life of Mrs. Bakhita Wanner ’12 who came to Montrose as a sixth grader, stayed until senior year, then came back to Montrose as a teaching intern post college, finally to become a teacher here the next year. I interviewed Mrs. Wanner over April break to ask her about the experience of being an alumna teacher and learned many new things about Montrose as a school and Mrs. Wanner herself.

Mrs. Wanner came to Montrose as a sixth-grade student for Montrose’s last year in its Natick campus. For an introduction to Medfield and the new campus, Montrose held a “Medfield Day” to show students what Medfield was like, and where their school would move to. The transition, however, did not take place until her 7th grade year, after an extended Christmas break which lasted the whole month of January. When I asked Mrs. Wanner about this, she confirmed that the whole month had no school at all. This really surprised me, and taught me how important the location switch was to the school.

Comparing the Montrose of Mrs. Wanner’s time here and today, there are many differences in the school, but all of the important things were still there. There was still Common Homeroom every week, but new games have been added, like the “name the tune” game and lip sync competitions. At field day, there is still the same spirit reigning throughout, but now, many new and creative games have entered the list, including the Teacher Hunt. She told me that one of the things she loves about this game is that the teachers are involved with the game too, and not just running it for the students.

Moving on to courses, many teachers who taught Mrs. Wanner are still here today, including: Mrs. Ellen Baker (7th Grade Religion), Mrs. Elrod (Senior year Philosophy), and Mrs. Demirjian (6th-8th Music, Upper School Chorus, and Latin). The grade above Mrs. Wanner’s was the first one to take Latin in high school as well as in 8th grade, and the class of 2012 extended it to Senior year, and she benefited herself from this as a high school Latin student. Mrs. Wanner explained that she loved learning languages, that Latin helped her as an English student, and just really enjoyed the class.

Her favorite class as a student was junior year Metaphysics with Ms. Rice. This course is no longer offered at Montrose, but Mrs. Wanner continued to study Physics in college, more specifically astrophysics. I found this so inspiring considering that Mrs. Wanner focused more on English and History in High School, could still take this course, and that Montrose offers so many classes in every subject. Today, her favorite class at Montrose is Physics, very much like her favorite as a student, but Mrs. Wanner also added that she would love sit to sit in on a Montrose art class since she is not very talented in this area, and to watch the students paint away skillfully. Also, she mentioned Mrs. Forsgard’s classes because of all the positive things she had heard about her classes.

Montrose performing arts played a large role in Mrs. Wanner’s time here, as she participated in many of the opportunities that were provided in the area in question. Handbells while she was a student was only a club, and Montrose did not even have a set of its own, and traveled to a nearby church to borrow their set. Mrs. Wanner was additionally a member of the Treblemakers, which she now leads, also with many differences of its own. The group now sings more pop-style songs, and students make their own arrangements more often versus using older ones. It has greatly expanded too, with our own Acapella Jam, and traveling to events outside of Montrose as well.

When I asked Mrs. Wanner about ways that Montrose Habits have helped her later in life, I was surprised to learn that the Habits courses in Middle School did not exist yet, but instead, Montrose offered many more CLDs, which we still have to a lesser degree today in M-Block. However, all of the same values taught today were still key then, and the one which carried with her the most was the importance of community. Mrs. Wanner continually touched on the subject of community and its omnipresence at Montrose, showing the lasting impact it can make on lives.

Bringing up the subject of graduation, Mrs. Wanner remembers hers very clearly, along with all of the events that occurred with it. Firstly, her class was originally meant to graduate on Miracle Field, but because of the rain, it was forced to be moved inside to the M and M.  Mrs. Wanner’s brother also had his graduation on the same day, at times which barely missed overlapping, resulting in her inability to attend the ceremony for her brother. She shared the memory of everyone else seated themselves as the ceremony began, then seeing her family race in just in time, coming from her brother’s graduation. There were imaginably many feelings Mrs. Wanner experienced during her graduation day, after seven years at Montrose, including excitement, sadness, wow, and a feeling of closing a chapter in her life. One thing that she did stress was that Montrose is always very welcoming to its alumni, and it will always feel like home there. Even after she went to college, Mrs. Wanner still came back to watch the Upper School play.

After Montrose, Mrs. Wanner went on to attend Columbia University in New York City, and there studied astrophysics. There are many differences that she pointed out between Montrose and Columbia, but mainly their size. Her graduating class at Montrose was under 30 girls, but Columbia’s class sizes were many, many times that, along with the change of small-town Medfield to one of the biggest cities in the world. The academics were not too challenging, because Montrose prepared her so well for the transition. At first, she did not join any clubs for her first semester, which had benefits and downsides, including giving time to settle, but also meeting less people. Soon, she would join the swing dance club along with their Choir.

Soon, it came time for Mrs. Wanner to graduate Columbia and find a job. Since she did not like the idea of having a research job in astrophysics, but loved tutoring, which she had participated in during college, she looked for a job in a museum. When none of these worked out for her, Mrs. Wanner thought of Montrose and its internship program, and decided to come back for a year as an intern to try out teaching, even though it was not her original idea. In turn, she loved being back at Montrose and was offered a job, so Mrs. Wanner decided to stay! Mrs. Wanner also mentioned that having to become a teacher and authority to juniors and seniors who previously knew her as a student was a strange experience for her along with occasionally being mistaken for a student, but even with some minor imperfections, she still loved Montrose. As a new teacher, Mrs. Wanner taught math and physics for her first year, then switched to just physics, with a stint of teaching 8th grade science for one year. One of her favorite parts of being a teacher here is that she can go to previously restricted places like the tower or the elevator, which she could not have previously done.

Since she spent seven years then came back as a teacher, I asked Mrs. Wanner what made Montrose such a special and lovable place for her. The answer was the Montrose community. Mrs. Wanner said that it is such a warm and welcoming place, and that there is an amazing school spirit. She additionally loves the support of being Catholic at Montrose, and the opportunity to attend Mass every day along with many other privileges.

Today, Mrs. Wanner teaches Upper School physics, leads the Treblemakers, and helps the Cantors at Mass. She sang in our most recent Coffeehouse along with many other things. She is a very active and loved member of the Montrose community, and I am sure that everyone will agree with me that Montrose is a better school since she joined as a teacher. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to learn Mrs. Wanner’s story; it has really helped me learn more about Montrose as a student, and how truly loveable the school is.


By Elisabeth Smith ‘28, Middle School Editor