New chemistry teacher Olivia Comer joins faculty


Sumaiya Fahmida

Introducing Olivia Comer, a new Chemistry teacher and Townsend Harris alumni.

HTML tutorial

As the school year began, the STEM department welcomed Olivia Comer as a new chemistry teacher. Her introduction to the faculty, as well as the appearances of other new staff in our halls, serve to account for the large sophomore class and assist the STEM department, which was only composed of nine teachers last year, in their numerous responsibilities.

Ms. Comer, an alumna of Townsend Harris, said, “I had a great experience as a student here, so when I first thought about teaching, I would picture myself teaching here. I feel really lucky that I got to come back as a teacher.” During her time here as a student, she participated in many musicals, with theater being a cherished aspect of her high school career.

After graduating, she received an undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University, majoring in Chemistry. Currently, Ms. Comer is finishing her Masters degree in Science Education from Queens College.

When asked about why she chose to teach this subject in particular, she said, “Chemistry is interesting because there are so many ways to see examples of what you are learning in class in the real world. I also know that chemistry can be challenging for students, so one of my goals is to make the material feel less intimidating. I want to instill the idea that even if students aren’t interested in becoming a doctor or a chemist, everyone still benefits from a good science education.”

Students first had the opportunity to meet and evaluate Ms. Comer’s teaching style last year when she was assisting as a student teacher in Mr. Kadamani’s regents chemistry classes. She helped teach bands 3 and 7 and provided tutoring sessions after school on Fridays to better understand the needs of the students and additional expectations that come with teaching at THHS.

Students in these classes provided their input on Ms. Comer, which was then collected at the end of last year and taken into consideration during the official employment process for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Assistant Principal of Math, Science & Technology Susan Brustein said, “Collecting student input has been a process we have used for ten years. I am always gratified to see the students and staff always agree on their feedback for prospective teachers.”

During her first year here as a full-time teacher, Ms. Comer will be assisting the Science Olympiad team as one of the head coaches along with teaching normal classes. “I hope to support the students wherever the need is… I know that the team wants to become even stronger in some of the chemistry-related events, so I certainly hope to be helpful there,” she said.

As one of the students who had her as a student teacher last year, Junior Dabynn Yi said, “When Ms. Comer teaches, she tries to relate what she’s teaching to her audience, making a hard subject more digestible… This type of teaching creates a gentle and empathetic environment that makes people love learning.”