Jacqueline Ptak: Thoughtful, understanding, Blackhawk Legend


Dominick Lopez

Jacqueline Ptak has taught at La Quinta High School for nearly 25 years.

She’s met new teachers, she’s seen teachers leave, and has seen the school evolve. 

“It was the happiest day of my life,” said Jacqueline Ptak of the day she was offered a job as an English teacher at La Quinta High School in 1996. She has taught now for a total of 29 years.  

Walking into room 411, there are numerous momentos to mark her 25 years at the high school.

Ptak’s oldest poster says “Let the choices you make today be the choices you make tomorrow.” It’s stapled in the front of the classroom.  

One of her most memorable items that a student gave her is a slip of paper that says, “Mile High Stadium,” which is the Denver Broncos stadium. When the student gave her this, he said to her, “Now you keep this forever.”

And she has had it since 2001.

Her favorite thing about the high school is the students because every student is different.

“They’re the best and worst thing about teaching,” she said, adding that every single student has different ideas, goals and beliefs.

Not many people like clowns, but Ptak loves clowns, as long as they’re not scary. 

In fact, she has a clown collection at home.

“It was something cool to have in your room,” said Ptak. She began the collection because all of her friends had a collection of their own. 

In her free time, Ptak loves to read, but she wishes she could read more. 

She doesn’t have enough time or energy to read anymore. 

When she was a kid, she would spend hours, and hours reading books because nobody bugged her. She hasn’t read every book in room 411, but she truly wishes she could read every single one of them. V.C. Andrews was her favorite author growing up, but as she got older and matured more, she fell in love with Jackie Collins’ work. 

“I’m a TV junky,” said Ptak. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” is one of her favorite shows. Ptak loves this show because it is one of the few shows that makes her laugh hysterically.  

She wants to know how the story plays out in a TV show. While she watches the show, she thinks about how this scene was filmed.

If Ptak could be in any movie, she would like to be in a Star Trek movie because she loves science fiction movies, and finds it fascinating that the movie takes place in space.

Ptak is known to be very thoughtful towards her English department colleagues, sometimes she gives little gifts to them during a holiday. For Halloween Ptak gave her colleagues a cute jar filled with candy. She loves to do this. Ptak enjoys doing this for herself, but also hopes it’ll brighten their day as well. 

Ruth Shulby, an English teacher at the high school, is one of Ptak’s closest colleagues. 

She has known her for 24 years and their classrooms have been across from each other since Shulby got to the high school. 

Thoughtful, understanding, and hardworking were the words Shulby used to describe Ptak.

When Shulby’s dog passed away six months ago, Ptak bought her a picture frame with a poem in it. 

“It totally touched my heart,” said Shulby. 

The Hawkview will continue to feature the Blackhawk Legends throughout the school year.