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  • Writer's pictureErin Madigan White

Weston Wednesday: Meet MHS Chemistry Teacher Anna Panchekha

This is the third in our “Weston Wednesday” series, spotlighting the winners of the 2024 Judy Weston Awards for Inspired Teaching. Follow along each week to learn more about the impact these educators are making in the Montclair Public Schools. 

It might be unexpected that a high school chemistry teacher who is known for her “impossible quizzes” and giving students “obscene mountains of homework” will also be remembered for her fun sense of fashion, but at least one of Anna Panchekha’s student will never forget the day she wore a scarf with the periodic table of elements.   

In nomination letters for the 2024 Judy Weston Award for Inspired teacher, Mrs. Panchecka’s students said they noticed and appreciated her sense of humor. They also said her reputation is of a far more serious and demanding teacher, one who challenges her students to appreciate the “awe-inspiring clockwork of our universe,” one who engages them with vivid demonstrations, and one who brings mundane concepts to life with hands-on activities and rapid-fire puns. 

Her nominators said that she fosters connection between students and moments of awe amid academic rigor. They noted Mrs. Panchekha always chooses a difficult path over an easy one, and shares her love and passion for the subject matter she teaches.

One student wrote, “I have learned more from Mrs. Panchekha than from any other teacher I’ve ever had, and the year isn’t even over!” 

Another student said: “She can be tough, but it's only because she wants to see her students do their best. You always get the sense that she believes in you.”

Mrs. Panchekha taught at MHS for many years, sparking students’ curiosity, making difficult concepts relatable for them, and challenging them to think more deeply about what they are learning. As she embarks on a well-deserved retirement, she will be remembered for all these reasons, as an inspired teacher.


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