Ms. Pontius – Teacher Profile


Mrs. Pontius has been an influential freshmen physics teacher at North Arlington High School for five years in her fifteen-year teacher career. She completed her undergraduate and masters degrees in physical chemistry at the University of Iowa, did research at the University of Chicago, and accomplished the prerequisites for a doctorate. When she was a high school student, she was “the new kid” during her senior year while transferring to three different schools. The abysmal chances of making friends inspired her to focus on her journey toward her future career. Her favorite courses included Microbiology, Typing, and Morning at the Movies: a cinema critique class that is unknown to NAHS.

To her, teaching is a practical career choice. In her words, she says, “I wanted to teach because it was more of something I grew into rather than something I aspired to do.  I once dabbled in academic research… [and] always gravitated towards challenging myself personally…I’ve had to work hard at it to be an effective teacher.” To her, every setback is a new experience she learns from to become a better teacher. Trial and error is an important concept in physics, which is Mrs. Pontius’s forte. She was entranced by the subject she teaches because she is an enthusiast of science and the subject involves “… a lot of self-learning and ‘aha’ moments,” which were abundant when I had her class. 

Besides being a teacher, Mrs. Pontius is also the club advisor of the robotics and chess clubs. She says she cherishes the “…high-energy vibe of being in a building of teenagers.  I like to be part of my students’ journey towards learning, growing, and I hope overall positive experiences.” Given that she is a mother, she is honored and grateful to be a part of her students’ and club-members’ lives and growth. 

Outside of school, Mrs. Pontius has a myriad of interests. In particular, she is notorious at and she describes herself as an avid birdwatcher, hiker, and Netflix binge watcher. Mrs. Pontius’ routine cannot proceed without “…curling up with my New Yorker magazines, taking the labrador for walks, playing…etc.” When COVID-19 plagues her mind, Mrs. Pontius imagines herself at warm, uncharted places. She makes it her personal goals to be a better teacher, to travel to the same countries as her father, a former WWII soldier in the South Pacific, and to master the French language, which is, in her words, “… is such a challenge for me!”

In the end, Mrs. Pontius’s final message to readers is to “listen to your elders and be respectful…but whenever you see injustice don’t sweep it under the rug.  Be a part of the solution.” This advice not only applies to participation in a classroom (her classroom) but to the injustice that plagues the current state of the world. With this in mind, one should always respect teachers for their efforts in and out of the classroom.  Mrs. Pontius is not only a caring mother-figure but also a relentless teacher and a credit to NAHS.