Exploring the Air of Possibility with Ms. Preye Porri

Ohizu O'Suoji, News Editor

Though she is one of the more recent additions to the English department at Northside, Ms. Preye Porri is by no means a stranger to life at Northside.

In a sense, describing the dedicated educator, avid writer, and former flute player as one of our new teachers is a misnomer, as Ms. Porri is not one of our new teachers, having taught at Northside before for some years and at other schools afterward.

Her experiences in education have been wide-ranging, from internships at Jones College Prep in Chicago and Phillips Academy in Boston during the early stages of her career, to arriving at Northside in her second year teaching. 

After a four-year stay at Northside, Ms. Porri took something of a detour, leaving to teach in the suburbs and at Jones, as well as taking part in the Bread Loaf School of English, where she was sent to Oxford and to North Carolina in order to experience teaching in new places. Ms. Porri notes these experiences as foundational, saying that, “[she] wanted to make sure that [she] understood what learning looked like in different environments for different kinds of students.”

After making her way, “from Northside to the world,” as she puts it, Ms. Porri made her return to the home of the Mustangs ahead of the 2020-2021 school year. This was a pivotal moment, as the realities of teaching during a pandemic presented new challenges for teachers and students alike. One of these challenges was imparting the importance of self-care to students. With the onset of the pandemic, “there came the realization that maybe some of the things that we thought were necessary to the classroom, really weren’t, and maybe some of the things that we need to build in are as simple as time to take care of themselves,” Ms. Porri said. This added emphasis on self-care can be observed in the meditations that have become a mainstay in her classroom, a practice that continues even as in-person classes have resumed.

Teaching English I, English III, and Creative Writing, Ms. Porri finds that her main driving force as a teacher is her love of teaching itself. “I think it’s really challenging. It’s like the best improv gig ever,” said Ms. Porri. “I also love planning and trying to figure out how I can make this old thing new again or how I can make this new thing familiar for students so they aren’t intimidated by it.” Ms. Porri gives credit to those who have along her journey as a teacher for influencing her, citing professors from her days in university, saying further that she wrote to them, acknowledging their contributions.

Ms. Porri describes herself as “having always been someone that pushes.” Further stating that, “I was never going to be that person that teaches the same thing year after year after year. Even if I taught the same content, year after year, the way I taught it would change dramatically, always pushing how I can do it better.” This is something that can be noted in her classes, particularly, her creative writing class. In it, students are often challenged through dynamic and writing exercises, such as blackout poems and still life writing, as well as prompts derived from a variety of media, including written questions, pictures, and musical compositions. 

To her students, Ms. Porri feels a deep sense of responsibility for fostering their growth as individuals, hoping to leave her impact by, “supporting students to do things that they love and enjoy and to also model how important it is to continue learning taking risks, even if it means leaving your comfort area.” Ultimately, Ms. Porri leaves her students with the message that “this is a moment in time, it’s not going to make or break you, and you will have a lot more moments. Take advantage of every opportunity to say yes.”