Rebecca Pawel: High school English teacher and acclaimed novelist

I love to tell stories about amazing teachers, and one that certainly fills the bill is Rebecca Pawel, a New York City high school teacher who has published four widely-acclaimed mystery novels.

PawelRebecca Pawel  was born in 1977 in New York City and raised in the Upper West Side. She once revealed that her love affair with all things Iberian began in junior high school, when she studied flamenco and classical Spanish dance. While a teenager at Stuyvesant High School, Rebecca spent a summer abroad in Madrid. Once she graduated from high school, she enrolled at Columbia University, where she majored in Spanish Language and Literature. She then attended Teachers College to earn her teaching credentials.

Rebecca began her professional career as a teacher of English, Journalism, and Spanish at the High School for Enterprise, Business, and Technology in Brooklyn. She was employed there from 2000 to 2011. Between 2011 and 2013, she served as a college advisor for High School for Services and Learning at Erasmus Hall in Flatbush. In 2013, Rebecca returned to the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Columbia University, where she is currently working on a PhD in English and Comparative Literature.

Rebecca’s detective novels are set in a time period immediately after the Spanish Civil War. Her first book, Death of a Nationalist (2005), earned an Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author. She followed this triumph with Law of Return (2004), The Watcher in the Pine (2005), and The Summer Snow (2006), which was named one of Publisher’s Weekly Best Mysteries.

“I’ve always told stories,” Rebecca once confessed. “I dictated stories to my parents before I knew how to write them down. When I was in third grade, my dad taught me to touch-type on a Brother electronic typewriter.” The rest is history.

High school Spanish teacher Margaret Domka doubles as international soccer referee

1683023_full-lndThere are many examples of talented teachers who also distinguish themselves in arenas outside the field of education. One such educator is Margaret Domka, a high school Spanish teacher who is also a well-respected international soccer referee.

Margaret was born August 13, 1979. Originally from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Margaret graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. For the past twelve years, she has worked as a Spanish teacher at Union Grove Union High in Union Grove, Wisconsin.

Margaret began her lifelong love affair with soccer when she was only four years old. She continued to play the sport throughout her childhood. “When I was 13, I started refereeing just as a summer job that I could have while I was in high school—a way to play soccer but have a flexible job with some money on the side,” Margaret once explained. “I never dreamed for a moment that it would take me to where it has.” During college, this exceptional athlete served as a defender on her school’s women’s soccer team. In 2000, Margaret’s senior year, the team advanced into the women’s NCAA Division III Final Four. That year, the intrepid player was named a Division III first team All-American.

After graduating from college, Margaret became the first female to officiate a game for the Milwaukee Wave. In 2007-2008, Margaret worked as a FIFA international assistant referee, and in 2010 and 2014, she worked the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cups. She also worked the 2012 Portugal-based Algarve Cup championship. In 2015, Margaret was selected as a match official for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Margaret says she feels lucky to be able to referee and still work full-time in the classroom. “I’ve been fortunate. I think that refereeing is always a very good job to have with the teaching,” she declares. “I’m very fortunate to have administrators who have allowed me to continue on this journey.”