New history teacher brings stories to the classroom


Matthias Jaylen Sandoval

Martin Gilbert came in as a leave teacher. He’s taught history, economics, and more for over 30 years

Aurora Rose Horn, Lead Copy Editor

History Teacher Greg Lesser recently welcomed a new addition, Amelia Max Lesser, to his family, so taking his place in the classroom until early May is Martin Gilbert, who has been teaching since 1984 at schools such as Hackley and Byram Hills. 

Gilbert said that he was inspired to become a teacher by his own AP US History teacher in high school. “I started out in college as pre-med,” he said, “but I wasn’t particularly interested in medicine. I only did it because it was what my family wanted me to do; my father was a physician. But I always loved history in high school, and I had a really special AP US teacher. That was an important part of my decision.” In addition to teaching history, Gilbert has also coached basketball and been the faculty advisor for clubs such as mock trial and quiz bowl. 

In his time as a teacher, Gilbert has crossed paths with many people. Some of them have gone on to become famous, such as David Harbour (better known as Jim Hopper in the hit Netflix original series “Stranger Things”) and Amanda Nepo, who at the age of 16 went on Penn and Teller’s show and fooled them with her original magic tricks. “But really,” he said, “it’s the everyday successes that I’m sometimes inspired by. Sometimes a student will say ‘That was the best lesson,’ or ‘I’m curious to know more about history,’ and I know I’ve done my job well when that happens.”

Gilbert’s teaching style differs from Lesser’s in that he often brings in stories from his own life; for example, when his eleventh grade US history class started their unit on the Gilded Age he told them about Madam C.J. Walker, our country’s first self-made Black millionairess, and how he passes her mansion, Villa Lewaro, every day on the way to work. He also showed the class that the sign outside of Villa Lewaro is in disrepair and needs to be replaced or, at the very least repainted, and he hopes that his students will take action to get this done. 

“Students need to take charge,” he said. “Sure, good grades are important to college, but they also want people who take action to make the world a better place.”

All in all, Gilbert has been received warmly by his students. Mila Benson, a freshman in his World History class, said, “I think, compared to Mr. Lesser, he’s a lot more energetic, but I think both teachers are really good.” She continued, “ Mr. Gilbert keeps us on our toes and asks us a lot of questions.”