Interviewing Ms. Michelle Palatnik: Art Teacher

Hopefully, most students have caught on to the fact that one of their favorite Ramaz alumni, our fantastic art teacher, Mrs. Rachel Rabhan, left last year. Though it was a sad farewell, Ramaz is grateful to have a new member of our community, Ms. Michelle Palatnik. Ms. Palatnik has always wanted to be a teacher. As a child, she raised and taught her younger siblings by modeling a teacher-student dynamic and turning most situations into a form of school; For example: how to ride a bike through “Bike School.” She enjoys teaching and has a natural passion for it because she loves being able to make a difference in the lives of others. While Ms. Palatnik has taught a wide variety of ages, she has deep care and yearned to teach children as we are vulnerable and still developing. In the past, she mainly worked at art schools but has also worked at museums and colleges. Most recently, over zoom, she was able to run her own art school/ business; This she truly enjoyed because, in addition to teaching, she was able to execute things her way; she was the boss. 

Despite teaching at Ramaz for not even a whole month, Ms. Palatnik was still able to differentiate us from her past schools because of our intellectual curiosity. She continued, saying, 

“There are some fantastic groups of students who have a natural intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, and politeness. Even though I do witness a lot of disruptive behavior, I see that everyone is good inside and recognizes right and wrong in a way that most kids are not familiar with. And I see everyone trying hard to fight their problematic behavior within themselves, which is impressive.”

Before coming to Ramaz, she had no expectations, but her first impression was the dedication and effort of the faculty to make the students feel comfortable and safe. Ms.Palatnik herself went to a public school, where in addition to students bullying each other, the teachers acted harshly. So, when she saw how Ramaz’s faculty cared for their students, she was in awe. She explained how rare it is for a school to have all their faculty to truly feel connected and obligated to take care of the students, but here in Ramaz, she feels all her co-workers keep those values. Additionally, she admires our goal here at Ramaz, to build Menshlikit and good people. She completely adores our student body; she believes that we have so much potential and are great people. As Ms. Palatnik is extremely passionate about humanity and art, she hopes to increase the school’s exposure to the “complexity and profound world of art.”

To close this interview, I asked Ms. Palatnik what one moment was from her teaching career she would never forget. She described how there are so many moments that she can not choose a specific one.

“It’s when a student feels seen, feels heard, and it really helped. They thought they were going down a hole they thought they would never recover from and then walking through the process. It’s about a kid finding confidence in themself.”

It was a pleasure to get to know Ms. Palatnik more personally. I hope after reading this, many students will see her and the entire art course in a new light, as I know, I do.