By Thom Randall
WARRENSBURG - Warrensburg High School English Teacher Karen VanDusen listened to 11th grade students in her Language Arts Class talk about a provocative Arthur Miller play they'd just read.
One student after another debated whether the play's ending was too melodramatic, or whether the heated, agony-stricken conversation between characters reflected real life.
"This was interesting - it was different, not like you'd expect," Sam Mosher of Thurman said.
"Chris and Kate got what they wanted, they got closure," student Xavier Bell of Warrensburg replied about the play's ending, full of epiphanies and anguish.
"Life doesn't necessarily work that way, though," answered Mosher. VanDusen pressed the students to explore the aspects of the characters that the dialogue revealed, and a 10-minute discussion ensued, with students offering observations about the play's emotional underpinnings.
Minutes later the students exited the room, and offered comments about VanDusen, who's been teaching for 32 years, most all of the time at Warrensburg High.
"Ms. Van Dusen asks a lot of questions -she makes you think a lot," Xavier Bell said. "She encourages everybody to offer their thoughts."
"She's a lot of fun, but at the same time, she has standards for us to go by," Mosher chimed in.
VanDusen has been praised by Warrensburg High School administrators as a teacher who can inspire students of all socio-economic backgrounds to delve into their studies and enjoy the experience.
Recently, U.S. News & World Report recognized Warrensburg High School as one of the nation's best - in the top 1,750 of 22,000 public schools. Throughout the entire capital region to the Canadian border, only three others - Corinth, Schroon Lake and Westport - were so awarded.
Those honored were the best in preparing students for college and exceeding state benchmarks on exams. The four schools earned a Bronze medal in the study, the results of which were published in U.S. News' Dec. 29 issue.