Monica Birtwistle

Maddie Fossit, Staff Writer

European maps adorn the walls of Tompkins’ AP World History classroom, along with Egyptian pharaoh and Buddha statues on a bookshelf.  Pencils and pens scurry across notebook paper as teacher Monica Birtwistle lectures about the Columbian Exchange and its effect on Old and New World populations, and answers questions from eager students. Being a teacher allows Birtwistle to explore her passion for history and interact with students.

“Originally, I didn’t want to become a teacher and was actually in the advertising world for three years,” Birtwistle said. “When I was working in advertising, I felt like I wasn’t working with intellectual or spirited individuals, so I decided to go to graduate school to become a teacher.”

Birtwistle grew up in a British household which frequently spoke about world history. Her father was especially passionate about European history and even had history-related board games. When she decided to leave her advertising job, she was inspired to go back to school and get a degree in Post-Civil War US History due her prior knowledge from her family.

“My favorite part about teaching is watching the student’s ‘light bulb go off’ and seeing them truly understand why this or that happens in history,” Birtwistle said.

The history teacher knew she wanted to teach AP World History because it was more interesting than her major. After teaching at Austin High School in Fort Bend ISD for 14 years, she took a year off and returned to teach at Tompkins. She loves being a part of Tompkins social studies department.

“I don’t know what I’d do other than teach,” Birtwistle said. “I really can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Birtwistle explored the notion of leaving teaching and pursuing another career, but nothing interested her. She is dedicated to teaching and preparing her students for the

AP exam in May, and happy to be a part of Tompkins.