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Cambridge’s Happiest Substitute Teacher Spreads Joy in the Classroom

Reeta+Ahuja%2C+better+known+to+students+as+%22Ms.+A%2C%22+flashing+her+signature+smile.
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Cambridge’s Happiest Substitute Teacher Spreads Joy in the Classroom

Reeta Ahuja, better known to students as

Reeta Ahuja, better known to students as "Ms. A," flashing her signature smile.

Whit Whittall

Reeta Ahuja, better known to students as "Ms. A," flashing her signature smile.

Whit Whittall

Whit Whittall

Reeta Ahuja, better known to students as "Ms. A," flashing her signature smile.

By Rachel Lichtenwalner, Cambridge High School

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Who is the happiest person you can think of? Is it a children’s cartoon character? Mister Rogers?

For many students, one name might immediately come to mind.

Ms. A.

Ask students at the school about the “super happy substitute teacher,” and they’ll almost certainly know you’re talking about Reeta Ahuja, or Ms. A.   

Ahuja is famed for beginning her class by reminding everyone to exude happiness.

“You are joyous by nature, so always radiate joy. Spread happiness and joy wherever you are,” Ahuja said in an interview. “And the most important thing — be happy all the time, because your feelings have energy, and that energy creates everything for you.”

Not only does she encourage people to ooze positivity, she also said she wants people to understand how truly beautiful they are.

“Your inner beauty is always fitting you. And that inner beauty always shines. The real beauty is your pure feelings in your heart: pure feelings of love, joy, compassion, kindness and peace,” Ahuja said.

She said she was never influenced by others, like family and friends, to think and feel this way, but rather her meditation helps her achieve this positive mindset.

Ahuja always takes roll by having the class clap for each student as his or her name is announced.

Her reason?

“When you see beauty in others (and beauty is always admired), I make them admire the beauty by clapping,” she said.

The first time junior Lily Parzych had Ahuja, students in the class got carried away with this.

“We had to write an essay, so we all kinda got behind [with] the cheering during attendance, and so much so that a teacher came next door and, like, screamed at us, like, ‘We’re having a class next door, like, we’re trying to learn!’ But it was really fun,” said Parzych with a laugh.

However, despite some craziness in the classroom, Parzych said she loves Ahuja’s constant good attitude.

“I think she’s great. It’s impressive how she’s retained positivity,” she said.

English teacher Suzanne Wren, who has had Ahuja sub for her class twice,  said she enjoys her bright personality.

“I love her positive energy. I love the joy she brings to the classroom. I love her honoring the students,” she said.

Wren said her students always have something kind to say about Ahuja whenever she returns from her absence. She said one of her students labeled Ahuja a “national treasure” and another said, “We really need to take care of her.”

Wren, who teaches five sections of AP Lang, said she likes the idea of the clapping during attendance, but sometimes it can become a bit much, adding that time is especially valuable in AP courses.  

Freshman Harvy Patel has a similar opinion.

Patel said her experience having Ahuja sub for her class was “good,” but Ahuja’s speeches about happiness and beauty and her attendance method took up more time than she wanted.

Nevertheless, “She’s fun,” Patel said.

Parzych said she admires and applauds Ahuja. In her opinion, many substitute teachers don’t receive the appreciation they deserve.

“She’s an awesome sub, because subs have the hardest job because no one respects them or pays attention,” said Parzych. “ I don’t know. She just does a great job,” Parzych said.

Ahuja’s positivity is well-known throughout the school and other schools, too.

She said while subbing at Alpharetta High School, she entered the cafeteria, and every student and staff member stood and clapped for her.

It made her very happy.

She said when she walks into the classroom, she notices how her students’ moods immediately change.

“My presence has a great impact on my students’ lives. That is what is incredible. I love all my students,” Ahuja said.

Students may chuckle or roll their eyes as Ahuja delivers her routine speech about happiness, but some say she lightens the atmosphere of the class, and will add entertainment to a stressful school day.

“Your life is magnificent, so always think big. Soar high,” she said.

This story was originally published on The Bear Witness on March 4, 2019.

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