Uploaded by Aliyah Remoroza

\"A QO teacher’s passion to spread optimism, hope, and humor\" by Aliyah Hannah Remoroza - School Features Article

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A QO teacher’s passion to spread optimism, hope, and humor
A Mickey Mouse statue greets worried parents and their admitted children, hoping to brighten
their day with a cheeky smile. Suspended hot air balloons enliven the atmosphere coupled with the
vibrant interior of the hospital walls. A woman strolls in with a duffel bag of surprises with the same goal
in mind. She makes her way to the changing rooms and slips into an orange jumpsuit; suspenders
strapped to a pair of baggy polka-dotted pants. Face paint and a red fluff ball for a nose add to the silliness
factor of her attire. The performance begins as soon as she springs into a room teeming with little kids
craning their necks to see the clown-for-hire in action.
Ella Mentry is not your run-of-the-mill math teacher. She works as a clown at Children’s National
Medical Center (known locally as Children’s Hospital) in Washington, DC when not preoccupied in
teaching Algebra I and Geometry at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “It’s a
blast! I love doing it,” Mentry said. “When I first started [it 10 years ago], it felt goofy and awkward, but
it was a good job and the hours were flexible enough with my class schedule.” She explains that taking
clown classes were necessary to master the arts of juggling, balloon twisting, and basic magic tricks.
Not only does she perform for ailing children in hospitals, but she extends the invitation to her
students at QO as well. According to QO sophomore Holly Wood, Mentry’s classes are far from boring;
instead, she embraces a creative approach in educating her students. “Every once in a while, she’d pull
out a deck of cards and do the trick, or do something with a 3D geometry shape and make it disappear or
reappear somewhere. She even taught us how to juggle! She’s my all-time favorite teacher,” said
Mentry’s former Geometry student.
Mentry balances her persona as a math teacher and visiting clown, making sure each role is wellcoordinated. When summer rolls around, she works three times a week at the Children’s Hospital keen on
making the kids laugh with a couple of tricks up her sleeves—literally. “I love to go down there and just
make the kids laugh. There’s nothing like that in the whole world.” Mentry says.
She regards her clowning profession as something more than procuring the usual dogs and
giraffes or shuffling aces and clubs. Her volunteer work at the Children’s Hospital is nothing short of a
heartfelt gesture to spread joy and warmth to kids who have no hope of recovering.
Mentry’s compassion for helping terminally-ill kids and making a difference in their lives stretch
to her beloved students. When QO freshman Jay Walker heard of his teacher’s sideline, he teased her at
first but came to respect Mentry’s remedial optimism. “You don’t think of teachers as usually like
wanting to help kids, but when you know she does that outside of class, you know she really does care.”
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