Ms. Chung retires after 31 years as a faculty member


Katherine Lian

Ms. Chung, humanities teacher at Townsend Harris for 31 years.

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Raquel Chung is retiring from Townsend Harris after being a humanities teacher for 31 years.

While reminiscing about her years teaching, Ms. Chung said, “I will miss the everyday interactions with my students and my colleagues, their creativity, insight, and their generosity of spirit.”

Her students shared the same feelings and said they will miss many things about her and her class. Many students interviewed reminisced over the same tradition: her practice of giving out candy at the end of every major discussion topic. Senior Afsana Ferdous, a student in Ms. Chung’s eighth band humanities class said, “It was a lot of fun trying to guess what she would bring because it would be relevant to what we discussed.”

Senior Brian Hsu, also from her eighth band class, said, “I will miss how lighthearted Ms. Chung is and all the jokes she plays with us. Class is never boring, since she’ll always have something fun ready for us.”

In addition to teaching English, Ms. Chung has also taught in the math department during her years at THHS. She is the Program Chair for the school as well, which means that she creates the class schedules for students each year. 

Most of all, however, Ms. Chung has been a fixture of the senior humanities seminar at Queens College. 

Senior Madeline Cannon said, “Ms. Chung really challenges her seniors to be reflective, critical, and approach English in new, creative ways that make the subject exciting to all.” 

Madeline praised Ms. Chung’s work with her students in preparation for the yearly Humanities Symposium. “Throughout the entirety of the symposium process, Ms. Chung was always there for advice, guidance, and endless wisdom. I’ll most definitely miss her class and the excitement she brings to the THHS experience,” she said.

Throughout her career, Ms. Chung had students send letters, cards, and wishes to people. One important memory from teaching humanities she shared involved her students helping to create the 9/11 Memorial in the Library and sending letters to firefighters after 9/11. 

“A friend of mine, who was a FDNY Lieutenant at the time, took those student letters to the medical office in Brooklyn, and taped them on the walls of the waiting room,” she said. “A few weeks later, one of my students received a card from a firefighter, who was so touched by her words of support. He and his firehouse sent her their engine company patch and pin to thank her.”

Ms. Chung’s dedication to sending letters and wishes was not only seen in her classes but also through what she did for the club she advised, Glamour Gals. With this role, she supervised fundraisers such as Winter Wishes and a Valentine’s Day Fundraiser to bridge the connection between THHS Glamour Gals with Atria Senior Living. 

She said that her favorite part of advising Glamour Gals is watching the long-term connections it made with members of the club and the elderly. She said, “If [Glamour Gals alumni] are in the local area, they still go to Atria and visit the residence there and they still converse with them and share memories and even highlights of what’s going on in their lives…they do it for more than service credit.” 

While keeping these memories in her heart after retirement, Ms. Chung plans on spending time with family, traveling, reading, reviving past hobbies, and volunteering in her parish’s educational programs.

Though her students said they were sad to see Ms. Chung go, at least one colleague had nothing but joy to share. “Yippee,” Art teacher Margherita Wischerth said to The Classic, observing that Ms. Chung deserves to focus on herself more.

 “She finally gets to do what she wants to do,” Ms. Wischerth said.