by Alyssa Ahn
January 27, 2022
Members of the BUA community shared the following stories about Dr. Formichelli (1974-2021) and the impact she had on BUA.
Amelia Boudreau ‘23:
Dr. Formichelli was my freshman year English teacher, and my freshman and sophomore year advisor, and then my junior year English teacher as well. And even years where I didn’t have her as my English teacher or advisor, I would talk to her in general outside of class.
It’s really hard to say a favorite memory, because there are so many, but there are a few that come to mind immediately. One is [not long] ago. She stopped by our history class. And while we were looking at the slate pencils from the African-American Meetinghouse, she sat next to me. We were trying to figure out what these slate pencils were, at first, because we weren’t told. And someone was like, “I wonder if they can break.” And she snapped one in half and was like, “They can.” And later when we were presenting what we thought [the slate pencils] were to the group, someone was like, “And then we found out that they can break,” and I was like, “Thanks to somebody in our group,” and I looked at her, and she laughed, really really hard; it was very funny.
Also, I had talked about this at ASM, but we had had a whole email exchange, a few months or so ago, where we talked about possible fan fiction and merch spinoffs of the books that we’d read together in class, so, things like “If Hester Prynne had an Etsy shop.” We actually later found merch with Scarlet Letters. She printed them out and hung up one of these T-shirt models wearing a black T-shirt with a red Scarlet Letter on the corner, and she wrote, “The Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale’s great-great grandson fulfilling his hereditary role,” or something like that. It was super funny, and it was on her whiteboard until recently. She told me, the next day when I came in for class, after we had had this exchange that involved this merch, “Look Amelia, I hung it up over there so that every time I walk past it I can be reminded of our jokes.”
And, I remember—this is somewhat less lighthearted, but last year I was having a really tough time in spring semester—I was not sleeping at all, I was also just in a bad headspace in general, and, yeah, it wasn’t good at all for a few months there. And I remember receiving an email from her saying, “Hi Amelia, I was wondering if you’d allow me to meet with you for just ten minutes a week, or it can be longer, not because of how you’re doing as a student—you’re a fine student, but because I want you to know that I’m here for you, and that there’s somebody here that cares and wants to hear whatever you want to share, even if you don’t feel like sharing it, if you’ll just allow me to listen.” I regret it so badly that I didn’t actually accept, because sometimes we get into headspaces where you reject help, in any form, but I went back and reread that, recently, and it just meant a lot, to think of that. She didn’t have to do that at all.
If we were lucky, we all had at least one teacher early in our lives who not only inspired us with their passion for their subject, but who took the time to get to know us at a personal level, see us as individuals, and maybe even recognize more in us than we did in ourselves. Dr. Formichelli was that person for so many BU Academy students. She loved language and literature, but loved working with adolescents even more. She took their ideas seriously, challenged them, and laughed with them. She [is] deeply missed.
Sonya Moo ‘23:
I first met Dr. Formichelli when I had her as my English teacher freshman year. Then I had her again junior year. I always liked to talk to her about gardening and mob shows/movies, which is an odd combination, but those were two interests that we had in common. I know that she was in the process of writing a book in a true-crime style that would’ve been super cool, and she gave me tips on plants that I had at home. She was super cool, and I liked her a lot as a teacher and as a person.
Madison Ho ‘24:
The first memory I have of Dr. Formichelli is from freshman orientation. She gathered us all around on Zoom and asked us to share our names and the meaning behind them. She then proceeded to make Quizlets of each one of our names and their meanings so that we could better remember one another. She didn’t have to do it, any of it, but she still did. And that’s what she continued to do throughout the rest of my year with her. During our first remote Wednesday class, Dr. Formichelli’s Wi-Fi cut out for a few minutes. It wasn’t long, but it was all it took for her to come back to the Zoom to find us with all of our names switched. We giggled like the comedians we thought we were and waited for her reaction. She looked around the screen, smiled at our antics, and went right back to teaching. This tradition of remote Wednesday shenanigans continued into the next Wednesday, the Wednesday after that, and all the Wednesdays for the rest of the year. We dressed up as characters from The Odyssey, The Iliad, Raisin in the Sun, Macbeth, Great Expectations, etc. and as our favorite Italian dishes (at Dr. Formichelli’s request). Dr. Formichelli took all of our wild ideas and bad poker faces and cackles in stride and encouraged us to have fun in class. My favorite memory is when we all dressed up as Bob the Minion. Upon joining, Dr. Formichelli surveyed the situation and quickly changed her name to Dr. Bob. She not only cared about us, but also cared about us caring about each other. She cultivated a true sense of community in our own little classroom and had us looking forward to every single class together. The bond and the friendship she nurtured between each of us still lasts today. She was a brilliant teacher who not only helped me [Zooming in all year from California] to grow as a literary student, but also encouraged me to champion the social justice issues I believed in. In such a short time and from three thousand miles away, she shaped the student I have become today, and I’m eternally grateful for her. She was one of the greatest pillars of our community, and her memory will be there with me for the rest of my life. Rest peacefully, Dr. Formichelli.
At the request of Jennifer’s family, donations in her memory may be made to the MSPCA, Charles River Alleycats, or to the financial aid program at Boston University Academy. More information about making a gift in Jennifer’s memory can be found at this link.