Professor Roni Natov
Department of English
Interviewed by Honors Academy student Neyra Azimov
Professor Roni Natov always knew that she wanted to teach English, which is a good thing for Brooklyn College: She has been teaching here for 40 years. "I came in 1969 and never left. I love Brooklyn College — the environment is lovely, beautiful and open. But it's really the students; they're wonderful. The diversity is great. I have learned so much from them — they are so open, appreciative and smart!"
Students clearly love Natov, too, as she has won several awards, including the first Claire Tow Distinguished Teaching Award. With areas of expertise that include children's literature, Victorian fiction and literature and the arts, Natov teaches a wide variety of classes. "I have taught English 1 and 2 and seminars in Dickens, Dostoevsky, the Brontës and George Elliot. I taught Victorian fiction, women's literature and psychology of literature. I did a course on critical fiction, which is fiction that opens you up to others' cultures. And lots of children's literature! I was also on the committee that designed the Macaulay Honors College course Arts in NYC. That is one of my favorite courses!"
One of the clearest signs that a teacher has had an impact is when past students continue to communicate with him or her. As Natov says: "Students write to me, lots and lots of students. Even from 40 years ago! For the ones who were most vulnerable, I was able, several times, to be there and listen. It's so natural, to be with another person and listen. A lot of teaching is inspiring but also giving permission: 'Yes, try it!' or 'Yes, go for it!' I feel like my fields, teaching and children's literature, are not that different. It's about how to be honest and still inspire hope. Not to lie, not to deny, but to move with a sense of hope. There is always a way of finding what is hopeful and strong in another person."