A scene from Greek tragedy as a modern-day text exchange? It’s just one of the innovative methods Sofia Madden uses to create an engaging and impactful curriculum for her Middle School English class.
"In 7th grade, most of the first semester is dedicated to Greek mythology and ancient Greek culture," shared Madden. Students kick off Grade 7 by reading Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief over the summer, followed by excerpts from Greek mythology and the challenging read of Antigone.
Madden tasked students with rewriting a scene as a modern-day text exchange between characters to make the ancient Greek tragedy more relatable. She was thrilled by students’ creativity as they used emojis and modern lingo to capture the essence of the ancient text.
Madden has been teaching at Sacred Heart since 2022 and her commitment to challenging yet nurturing her students shines through in her classroom every single day.
In addition to Greek Mythology, the curriculum Madden designed also includes works like The House on Mango Street, Brown Girl Dreaming, and Nowhere Boy. “Most of 7th grade is focused on social justice and helping students grapple with bigger questions,” she said, “while figuring out their place in the world and where their moral compass is leading them.”
When asked what her favorite part about working at Sacred Heart is, Madden answered with a smile, "It’s such a Sacred Heart answer, but I really love the Goals and Criteria." Displaying them prominently in her classroom, Madden values the emphasis on faith, community, intellectual values, wise freedom, and social justice. "It's a great reminder about what I should be doing in the classroom with students and what our community should look like, both in the classroom and the school as a whole," she shared.
The sense of community and dedication to education at Sacred Heart resonates strongly with Madden. "I feel so lucky every day walking into the building because I know that my students are curious and hungry to learn more," she shared. “They are driven to not only succeed externally but grow internally, intellectually, and emotionally - and grow into better people too.”
Beyond the classroom, Madden loves to read. She recently reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a coming-of-age novel that takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Madden found the book especially impactful given that she teaches young women navigating their own coming-of-age stories.
Reflecting on her experience at Sacred Heart, Madden is grateful for the invaluable mentorship she has received. Working with veteran teachers has taught her not only how to be a better educator but also a more effective community member. Madden emphasizes how her mentors have helped her navigate the delicate balance required when working with students, recognizing the importance of being warm yet challenging.
Sofia Madden's commitment to fostering intellectual growth, bringing awareness to social justice issues, and building a sense of community truly embodies the spirit of Sacred Heart, making her a cherished educator within 91st Street’s vibrant community.