Audiences were pleasantly surprised by Anne Hathaway's enchanting voice in her Oscar-winning role as Fantine in "Les Miserables," but there was one person who knew of her beautiful tone all along - her chorus teacher, Commack High School North Alumnus Joanna Barouch.
Barouch was a long-term substitute teacher at Millburn High School during the 1996-1997 school year when she had Hathaway, then a 14-year-old freshman, as her choral student.
"She was a nice kid - very low key and very smart," Barouch said.
While an A-list star now, Hathaway was anything but a diva as a teen. "The exact opposite of that," her former teacher said.
"I knew she had a lot going for her, but I would have never thought that she would be the movie star she is today. Of course, she was only 14."
Even though she was young, Hathaway always showed promise, Barouch said.
"She had the ability to apply herself," she said. "I'm glad she finally got a chance to sing," she said referring to the musical, in which the actors all sang live instead of on a pre-recorded tape.
Shortly after High School, Hathaway got a role on the television series "Get Real." Her fame came after playing Mia Thermopolis in the Disney film "The Princess Diaries" in 2001.
From a quiet teen, to an Academy Award-winning actress, Barouch said that the kind, young girl she knew, had always worked hard for her dreams.
"She deserves every bit of success that she has right now," she said. "It's great seeing nice people who worked hard do well. Anne is that."