Valley Echo Staff
Mrs. Shtraks began teaching Physics at Passaic Valley 16 years ago, but her career began in Russia. After graduating from university in Moscow, Mrs. Shtraks taught Physics in Moscow High School for the first 20 years of her career. She continued to teach Physics at the high school level after emigrating to America. She spent the last 16 years at Passaic Valley.
“Sometimes, I think I was born to be a teacher,” said Mrs. Shtraks. “I was very happy to do it all my life. I never changed my goals.”
Mrs. Shtraks will be sorely missed by both students and staff. “Elena is not only a distinguished teacher for her students, but she is also a teacher for her colleagues, who she advised and counseled often,” said History teacher Ms. Kathleen Menake. “I will always remember her great example of decency, integrity, and leadership.”
Fellow Science Teacher Dr. Susanne Iobst began teaching at Passaic Valley in the same year as Mrs. Shtraks. “For Elena, she had spent her entire career as a teacher. For me, it was my first teaching experience… She was my mentor, my colleague, and one of the closest friends that I have,” Dr. Iobst said. “Her passion for education excellence is unsurpassed. Her ability to continually grow and adapt her lessons serves as a model for how teachers need to learn as an example for their students. I will remember her most for how selfless she is. She always anticipated the needs of others both in and out of the classroom.”
Mrs. Shtraks’ legacy lives on at Passaic Valley through the Physics Club and the Rube Goldberg Projects, both of which Mrs. Shtraks created to generate interest in the subject. In a June letter she sent to students and staff announcing her retirement, Mrs. Shtraks described the reciprocal impact the Passaic Valley community had on her.
On behalf of the Passaic Valley community, the Valley Echo would like to wish Mrs. Shtraks a happy retirement and thank her for the lessons she taught throughout her career.