Introducing new THHS faculty and staff: A Q/A with the newest STEM teachers

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As the school year begins once again in an unconventional manner, it marks new realities, but also familiar sights. New teachers are by no means unfamiliar at Townsend Harris, but this year, the school has welcomed close to 20 new staff members. As part of The Classic’s introducing THHS teachers series, we gathered responses regarding the motivations, goals and aspirations from THHS’ new staff members.

As part of this week’s coverage, we spoke to Alice Brea, Tanya Karcic, and Jamie Posner, the new STEM teachers, as they discussed their backgrounds, goals, and hopes for the future.

 

New Math Teacher, Alice Brea (Geometry and Algebra 2)

Where did you study (schools, universities)?

I got [both of] my undergraduate and master’s degrees from CUNY Queens College.

What has your experience as a teacher been so far? For how long have you been educating and who have you taught?

I have always taught high school; I taught 10th and 11th grades at my previous schools. However, I have taught all grades 9 – 12 over the years.  I have been teaching for nine years and I have loved it every year.

How have your first few months here treated you? Have there been any challenges in switching schools?

It has honestly been an easy transition since everyone has been so welcoming.

What do you find most enjoyable about teaching your subject? What drives your passion? How do you plan to make STEM more engaging this year and share that passion?

I like making what seems like chaos clear in mathematics. I try to make connections to real life. I also try to break the difficult topics down to make the topics easier for the students.

Lastly, what are you most hopeful for during your time here?

Making a difference in each student’s life.

New Science Teacher, Tanya Karcic (Chemistry)

Where did you study (schools, universities)?

Cornell University (undergraduate) and Adelphi University (masters graduate program)

What has your experience as a teacher been so far? For how long have you been educating and who have you taught?

I [previously] taught Regents Chemistry at the Manhattan Early College School for Advertising (MECA) in Manhattan. I have been a teacher for 12 years and I love it! I enjoy my job and I absolutely love working with high school students. I really love learning from my students and getting to know them. I love to share my passion for chemistry with my students and to get them to be more curious thinkers!

How have your first few months here treated you? Have there been any challenges in switching schools?

The most challenging piece is just adjusting to all the little things and getting used to the schedule. The students have been so kind, welcoming and helpful!

What do you find most enjoyable about teaching your subject? What drives your passion?  How do you plan to make STEM more engaging this school year and share that passion?

The most enjoyable part about teaching is when I hear my students having exciting scientific dialogue about a phenomenon we are learning about in class. I love doing demonstrations and having my students predict why something happened and then learn from each other. My passion comes from my own curiosity of how things work and why everything is the way it is; [thus,] I try to bring real world applications into every lesson! 

It sure has been a wild year and a half, but I hope to just bring some excitement into my classroom and to have fun learning. I plan to make STEM more engaging through exciting labs and lessons that incorporate student interests and real world applications.  

Lastly, what are you most hopeful for during your time here?

I am most hopeful to try to influence as many students as I can to develop a growth mindset, an increased curiosity about the world we live in and how it works, and to inspire students to be kind humans!

New ISS STEM Teacher, Jamie Posner (ISS teacher: Precalculus, AP Calculus AB, Intro to Accounting, Chemistry Lab)

Where did you study (schools, universities)?

I got my Bachelors in chemistry and history at Binghamton University (SUNY). I actually went to Binghamton with Mr. Stern and even had him as a teacher assistant for my physics lab! I was accepted into NYU Dental, but I decided not to enroll. Since I wanted to be a teacher instead of a dentist, I did my Masters at St. John’s University in mathematics education. 

What has your experience as a teacher been so far? For how long have you been educating and who have you taught?

This is my fourth year of teaching. Four years ago, I declined my dental school offer. I traded in my scrubs for a chalkboard, and I haven’t looked back. Becoming a teacher is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The experience that I got in my last school and the experience that I’m getting at Townsend Harris are priceless.

How have these first few months here treated you? Have there been any challenges in switching schools? 

My first few months at Townsend Harris have been very enjoyable! I’m loving getting to know all of the awesome students and teachers in this school, and I’m looking forward to being more involved in the school community. 

Being a new teacher in a school is almost like being a new student in school. The most challenging aspects have been teaching new courses and adjusting to a new routine. 

What do you find most enjoyable about teaching your subject? What drives your passion? How do you plan to make STEM more engaging this school year and share that passion?

Prior to becoming a teacher, I tutored high school students in math and science since my senior year of high school. I always loved leading students to have an “aha” moment when they make new connections on their own. To this day, that still drives my passion for teaching math and science. Sure, I didn’t become the dentist that I thought I’d be. But now, I can be that role model who gives students the math and science skills needed to become successful dentists, themselves.’

Even before the pandemic, math and science courses have a history of making some students feel anxious. Now that we are back together after a long 18 months, I plan to make STEM engaging by making these subjects relatable to the students. Students should know the applications of math and science to their everyday lives to really appreciate the new concepts that they’re learning. 

What are you most hopeful for during your time here?

As a new Townsend Harris teacher, I have many ideas that I’d like to share with our school community. Firstly, I’d like to start a pre-dental studies course for students who are interested in becoming dentists. In this course, we will train to be dental assistants, research dental programs, be introduced to the DAT (Dental Admissions Test), and visit local colleges that have pre-dental programs and/or a dental school. Secondly, I’d like to start a foreign exchange program with sister schools in Europe. In this program, we will host students from schools abroad for a few weeks and eventually visit them in return. I think this program would add value to studying a foreign language as well.

Photos by Kate Romero and Audrey Chou, photography editors

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