News

Welcoming new teachers

By WINONA ATMAJA, KONYA BADSA, ARIHANT SETH, seniors,
SAMANTHIKA DEVALARAJU, PAULINA LEE, NISHI SHAH, CHITHRA SUBRAMONIAN, KAVYA UDUPA, juniors,
TANAYA BADSA, sophomore,
GRACE WU, and COURTNEY ZENG freshmen

The beginning of each year starts off with new faces, of incoming freshmen and new teachers that are ready to bring a fresh wave of ideas and teaching styles to JP. This year, JP is welcoming many new teachers, some with decades of experience and some with just a few years’ worth. Either way, the new teachers are sure to impress with their knowledge, and make the JP experience that much better.

Although the teachers who left JP will be missed, the new teachers who have arrived bring excitement and new teaching styles. We hope that they find a home in JP and atay here for years to come, spreading their knowledge to students of all ages and backgrounds.

Ms. Cleary, the new business teacher at JP, graduated from Ramapo College with a master’s degree in Educational Technology. Ms. Cleary’s career schoice was influenced in part by her own high school teacher, and likewise encourages her students to “work hard, actively participate, and achieve their dreams.” She strongly believes that every day is a new learning experience and promotes an open exchange of information between her and her students. Ms. Cleary is serving as a co-advisor of both FBLA and the freshman class and is looking forward to a great year. She hopes that her career at JP will be pleasurable and that her future will be filled with wonderful experiences shared with her students. In her free time, Ms. Cleary enjoys visiting the beach and New York City with her children.

Ms. Schiavone, the new Italian teacher at JP Stevens, grew up in Westchester County, NY. Although Schiavone herself is Italian, she spoke English at home and wasn’t fully exposed to the Italian language until college. In her first year, Ms. Schiavone attended the pre-med program at Boston College, but soon realized that Italian was her true passion and switched her major to the language, while studying Art History as a minor. She studied abroad in Parma, Italy for a year and also studied in Florence while in graduate school at Middlebury College. While immersing herself in a truly Italian environment as an international student, Ms. Schiavone fell in love with the culture. However, she didn’t realize that she wanted to be a teacher until she started to teach Italian to adults while working at an art museum. She had taught Italian to middle school children before, but decided to come to JP and educate high school students about the Italian language and culture.

When Ms. Schiavone arrived at JP, she felt “overwhelmed at first, but now that [she] can find [her] way around the building, it’s much better.” One thing she loves about JP is the weekly song played over the speakers every Friday during passing between homeroom and first period. She is also very excited to be an advisor for the Italian Club and eager to share her enthusiasm for the Italian culture. She hopes that her “students will learn to love something about either the Italian culture or the language… or both!”

Mr. Earl of Roxbury, NJ, is a new physical education teacher here at JP. He received a bachelor’s degree in Health and Exercise Science from Rowan University and a master’s in Education Administration from Montclair University. Fondly remembering his childhood, Mr. Earl recalls that some of the best times of his life were on the athletic field. With athletics playing such a huge role in his life, he has learned many life lessons from it, including teamwork, determination, hard work, and integrity.

To Mr. Earl, teaching is a profession that allows him to work with young adults and help make athletics a part of each student’s life. He hopes that “students at JP always take their [peers’ and teachers’] advice and apply it into their lives.” Mr. Earl hopes that students will learn some of the same life lessons that he himself has discovered. And in the process, he might learn more as well. In his free time, Mr. Earl enjoys surfing, skiing, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with his family.

Ms. Yee knew exactly what she wanted to do, even at a young age. Children often say that when they grow up, they want to be the President or a firefighter or an astronaut. However, Ms. Yee, ever since she could remember, wanted to pursue art. As she puts it, “Art has always been my first love. When I was a kid, my mom and sister saved our report cards in a scrapbook, and the last question in the scrapbook was ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ Nearly every year, I would answer it by saying I wanted to be an art teacher.” Ms. Yee majored in art at Rutgers University as an undergraduate. Later, she studied at Kean University for her teaching certificate and supervisory certificate. When she finished receiving her teaching certificates, she taught at Edison High School for fifteen years until she moved to JP; the length of her career currently totals an impressive sixteen and a half years in Edison Township. As an educator, Ms. Yee hopes to “prepare [her students] for what will come next and encourage them to always grow and learn.”

In her free time, Ms. Yee enjoys outdoor activities, concerts involving all types of music, touring museums’ galleries and watching plays, as well as anything related to visual and performing arts.

The exclamation, “Chugga chugga!” is commonly heard in Mr. Mayes’ physics and environmental science classroom.

Mr. Jonathan Mayes, who has an undergraduate and master’s degree from Rutgers University, says he created the idea of the “Mayes Train” when he was teaching a class at Rutgers and wanted the students to be more interactive. Mr. Mayes originally wanted to become a researcher, but the environment did not suit him. However, he was passionate about science and decided to turn to teaching physics, explaining that “it is the most encompassing science.”

Aside from Rutgers, Mr. Mayes also taught at Woodrow Wilson Middle School and Herbert Hoover Middle School. So far in his JP experience, Mr. Mayes enjoys interacting with the staff, students, and of course, “the Jacuzzi in the teachers’ lounge.”

Mr. DiFilippo, a new chemistry teacher, has always wanted to become either a scientist or an inventor. He graduated from University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry.

As a teacher, his goal is to help improve the state of high school education. Mr. DiFilippo believes that high school is all about taking part in an engaging, open-minded learning experience. He advises his students to “always question what they are told, and try to apply the scientific methods and ideas in their lives.” Mr. DiFilippo’s passions for chemistry and teaching bring countless opportunities for his students to engage with the field and possibly become the “next great minds” in science. But, his love for science does not stop at teaching. In his free time, he enjoys reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is a 1970s science fiction series. He also enjoys watching and playing baseball.

Mr. Aiello, an environmental science teacher, is among the newest additions to the science department of JP Stevens. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Delaware and a second bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from NJIT/Rutgers. Mr. Aiello then received his M.Ed. in Biological Science Education from Rutgers’ Graduate School of Education. Previously a teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Mr. Aiello is excited that, here at JP, he is going to able to engage in a higher level of thinking in his science classes for years to come. Besides teaching, Mr. Aiello has many hobbies such as hiking, bike riding, and camping. As final words to his students, Mr. Aiello draws parallels between his expectations of his students to the expectations he has of his own children. “One: don’t be afraid to be wrong; two: question everything; and three: always keep your sense of humor.”

Mr. Bigelow is a new biology teacher and JP’s new freshman football coach. He went to Muhlenberg College as an undergraduate and both Villanova University and the University of Maryland, College Park, for graduate studies and research. A high school biology teacher inspired him to follow his passion for biology, since “[Biology] is amazing because it is everything we are.” He enjoys football, disc golfing, and grilling. When asked about how he liked JP, he responded. “I love it! It is such a spirited school, and students have fantastic personalities!” As a final note, he says to “Follow your passions, respect your colleagues, take a harder look at everything you see, and question everything.”

Dr. Knecht is not only a biology and environmental science teacher, but also a former Hawk! She obtained a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Rutgers University but chose to teach science after realizing that she’d rather teach than become a pharmacist. Dr. Knecht, who had previously taught at Bishop Ahr for four years, is ecstatic to be teaching with her former science teachers. Surprisingly, as a JP Stevens student, she enjoyed spanish more than science because she liked the language, loved the culture, and especially admired her former teachers (Dr. Buonomo and Mrs. Schwartz, to name a few). Dr. Knecht recalled while laughing, “Spanish was fun when my younger brother and I would have conversations in front of my mom at the dinner table. She’d have no idea what we were saying!” Beside enjoying spanish, Dr. Knecht loves Breaking Bad and traveling, and is especially fond of her trip to Italy with some of her students during the spring semester. Dr. Knecht advises her students to push themselves without becoming too focused on the numerical grade they receive, and commiserated with the Breaking Bad fans, saying that she’s “sad it’s over.”

Mrs. Dato, a special education and math teacher, decided to pursue a career in education for one reason: to make a positive impact. “I remember some of my high school teachers who taught me life lessons that I will never forget,” she explains. “It is my hope to pass these life lessons on to my current and future students.” Mrs. Dato lived in Scotch Plains and graduated from Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School before going on to obtain her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from East Stroudsburg University and Kean University, respectively. Math, surprisingly, was not her favorite subject in school. “Most of my former math teachers were very dry, “ she recalls. “I want to be a teacher who gets students excited about math, and instill in them a passion for the subject, even if they initially came to my class disliking it.”

Mrs. Dato also plays volleyball and soccer. As this year’s varsity girls soccer coach, she knows the value of putting in 100% effort, in sports or academics. “The people who learn this lesson earlier in life are the ones who generally succeed in the future,” she states. “JP Stevens is an amazing school that fosters this value. Everyone here is so positive and supportive, and the students and staff have made me feel extremely comfortable. I’m lucky to be a part of this school!”

Mr. Garcia is a new physical education teacher at JP. Mr. Garcia graduated from Montgomery Township High School, where he played football. He went to college at Rowan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Health and Exercise Science. Mr. Garcia has always been passionate about sports and physical education, and was persuaded by his mentor, Corey Delgado, to pursue a career in the field.

Mr. Garcia hopes that, through teaching, he will be able to both help students become better individuals and teach them the necessity of being physically active as much as they can. He advises students to “give a 100% effort in everything [they] do,” but to make sure to have fun and enjoy life. When asked for his thoughts about how he likes JP, Mr. Garcia says that he loves it so far and greatly enjoys working with the staff and students. Unsurprisingly, in his free time, Mr. Garcia enjoys watching football and working out.

Senora Bordon, the new Spanish teacher, has always loved teaching others. S Bordon, who obtained a masters in Spanish Literature from Florida International University, is able to blend her passions for her heritage and for teaching every day. Beside teaching Spanish language and culture, she promotes the idea that although “we may all come from different cultures, we are all still the same.” She also believes that attitude is the most important part of learning a language and that faith is the driving factor behind success. These are sentiments taught by her mother, who always encouraged her and said that an education is the key to everything. Sra. Bordon is also a new advisor of JPAWS.

What she enjoys most about teaching, she says, is “seeing my students excel in life and in what they love doing.”

Ms. Webster is the new marketing, accounting, economics, and banking and finance teacher at JP Stevens. Having taken classes at Rider University, she is ready to share her knowledge of business with her high school students. In the past, Ms. Webster taught at West Milford and Randolph and enjoys being a part of her students’ success. An enthusiastic teacher, Ms. Webster has many hobbies. She loves to watch football in her free time and follows popular shows, such as Vampire Diaries and How I Met Your Mother. When asked how she is enjoying JP, Ms. Webster responded happily, “I love it here! Everyone is so friendly, and the students are very respectful.” As an experienced teacher, Ms. Webster frequently advises her students, “You can do anything if you just put the time and effort behind it.” Ms. Webster recommends her classes to all high school students because it teaches them skills that are applicable in the real world.

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