Teacher Feature: Robert Primmer
The desk is lined with books of all genres. Photographs of his wife and two daughters hang on the wall. A bright yellow sign stands high above his computer that states, “PUSH.” A copy of In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway sits alone next to a Brookline High lanyard. The bulletin board is tightly packed. What appears as a cluttered desk is actually a clear representation of English teacher Robert Primmer’s deep knowledge and passion for literature and his varied interests.
Primmer has been teaching at Brookline High School for 12 years, which makes him one of the more seasoned teachers at the school. He currently teaches two sections of Fiction and Film classes and two sections of American Literature classes. Primmer incorporates his prior professional experiences, his personal interests and his time at BHS into his teaching style.
For all the years he has been at the high school, Primmer has always been an English teacher. However, outside the classroom walls, he has done more than the average person.
“I lived in New York from 2000 to 2003, which was a phenomenal experience. I went to school at University of California in Santa Barbara, which I loved,” Primmer said. “I grew up in Vermont, so it was a really nice thing to go to the whole other side of the country since I grew up in a small town. I’ve lived all over the United States, and I have traveled all over.”
Senior Vicka Ter-Ovanesyan, who is currently enrolled in his Fiction and Film elective, feels strongly about how his teaching is incorporated with his personal experiences.
“He definitely weaves his personal experiences into his teaching, just like any teacher, that way he sees what works and what doesn’t work,” Ter-Ovanesyan said.
When Primmer was in college, he studied film and created a variety of different media projects. He also worked for a production company after college, where he learned even more about film and web design.
“I think [the] fiction and film [elective] came out of my production background, and I think being able to read film in the same way we read literature was definitely a big part of it. Learning how to make films and media allowed me to be able to teach it in a better way,” Primmer said.
Having a production background helps him provide real-life experiences for his students, which makes for a more enriching learning experience.
Junior Orla Erdman is taking American Literature, taught by Primmer, and she sees how his students benefit from his long tenure at the school.
“He knows the assignments really well and he knows how his students will benefit best from this curriculum. He also knows how his students have acted over years, which is helpful because he knows what is the best for everyone,” Erdman said.
Primmer has observed many changes among the students and administrators at the high school. Primmer said that while his department has experienced less change, there are still new people coming in and generating new ideas for the curriculum, which he finds exciting.
Primmer embraces all of the change he’s observed and continues to feel satisfied with his job.
“I am extremely happy to be here and to have found this as a profession, to have found Brookline as a community, to be a part of New England, and the NE community,” Primmer said. “I feel really fortunate to have had these things come together, and some have been because of my own interests and ambition and some is plain luck. It is pretty amazing how those things can come together and how things work out. I feel very fortunate as a result of that.”