by Preethika Vemula, News Editor
photos contributed by South staff
Physics teacher Zoe Hasham is a recent graduate from Bridgewater State University, where she studied physics and secondary education.
Hasham said that she hopes that her classes will connect physics to other subjects.
“Something that I saw at South and was excited about was a lot of interdisciplinary learning and connections made between subjects with, [for example], the da Vinci program,” she said. “I’m excited to do that with physics. I want to make physics an accessible topic for students because I know sometimes it can be intimidating or scary.”
Hasham said that she hopes to empower all of her students to succeed.
“I never want you to feel like you’re not good enough in my class or that you can’t do physics,” she said. “[Physics] can be fun and even if you don’t want to be a physicist or ever study physics again, we’re going to have fun with it and enjoy it.”
Sarah Deitch was a math teacher at Providence County High School in East Providence, RI for two years before coming to South.
Deitch said that she would like to encourage students to forge their own academic pathways.
“If it’s something you want to learn, you can learn it,” she said. “I hope for my students that if they need anything from me, they’re able to communicate.”
Deitch said that she will support her students through the undesirable year.
“One of my goals is to make this year as pleasant as possible for students,” she said. “Distance learning, while I think is the correct choice, is not ideal for learning. I want to make it so students do learn and make progress.”
Matthew Williams spent a year as a student teacher at South in the 2018-2019 school year before teaching Latin at a charter school in Plymouth for a year. Williams, who will be returning to South as a Latin teacher, said his passion to teach started with his experiences as a student.
“School was always a place where I felt the most comfortable. I felt the most powerful,” he said. “I wanted to do anything that I could to recreate that feeling for students, to empower them and to give them opportunities to expand their view of the world.”
Williams said that for the coming school year, he hopes to instill a sense of normalcy in his students and encourage them to learn from their experiences during the pandemic.
“It is possible and necessary to learn through this difficult time, and there are things to be learned going through this time that I hope they take with them for their entire lives,” he said. “I don’t think any experience is ever a waste, especially not this one.”
Prior to becoming an educator, Alexizendria Link worked in the nonprofit industry. She is still involved in several organizations and sits on the board of directors for the Young Women’s Christian Association and the National Alliance of Mental Illness. She now serves on the board of directors for the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Executive Council for the Episocal Church.
Link said that her desire to become an English teacher was sparked by her background in social justice.
“I found myself coming into education because I felt like disparities in education were a social justice issue, and I was motivated by participating in education, particularly public education,” she said.
Link said that she hopes her students will make connections between the texts they are reading and current events.
“[Students’] ability to make connections between the stories that we’re learning and the things that are currently happening … allows them to take away an experienced growth, both socially and academically,” she said.
Graduating Boston University with a masters in education last year and after student teaching at North, Cassidy Donohue will be teaching 9th grade history at both South and North.
Donohue said that her experiences learning online as a graduate student gives her insight into the student experience during remote learning.
“I know what it’s like to be an online student and an online teacher at the same time,” she said. “I’m hoping to use those skills that I developed during the last semester to build community and get to know my students on an individual level.”
Donohue said that one of her goals is to connect with her students in a nonacademic setting.
“If I were in the building, I would be going to sporting events, concerts, musicals and plays, getting involved with students’ lives outside of the classroom,” she said. “I’m definitely going to make that a goal and a priority to figure out how that’s happening virtually and be as involved as I can.”
After teaching at Charlestown High School for 15 years, Gerald Ng will be teaching physics at South.
Ng said that he wants students to make connections between the material they learn in class to their everyday lives.
“I do a lot of stuff around the house that relates to applying physics,” he said. “There are a lot of students who probably don’t know how different parts of their houses or cars work. I’m trying to find ways to connect what [students] will be learning in class with what they see at home.”
Ng said that he strives to meet every student where they are.
“I’m always here for whatever they need. Some students who want to learn a lot, I want to make sure that their needs are met and that they feel challenged,” he said. “I know that there’ll be some students who feel like they’re struggling, and I want them to know that I’m there to support them, too.”
Media Lab teacher Leslie Kepner taught art, graphic design and art history at a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program in New Jersey before teaching at South. Before she became a teacher, Kepner worked as an art director and graphic designer for the first decade of her career.
“When I had children, I became involved in volunteering in their school district and found out I liked working with children,” she said. “I [got] my teaching degree and became a teacher. It’s nice to use my art and graphic design background in a different context.”
Kepner said that visual arts pose opportunities for personal connection.
“I hope to do a lot of icebreaker games [and] one-on-one conferencing with students so that they can get to know me,” she said. “Teaching visual arts, I feel like there’s a good opportunity for individual dialogue, to talk about their artwork, their ideas and what they want to learn.”
English language learners (ELL) teacher Dianna Kobayashi taught at schools in New Orleans and Chelsea before beginning in the Newton Public Schools in 2007. Since, she has taught at Countryside Elementary School, Bigelow Middle School and the Education Center.
Kobayashi said that she has wanted to be a teacher since a young age.
“I used to play school when I was little, and I liked teaching and meeting people from all over the world,” she said. “I decided to become an English language learners teacher and learn cultures and languages.”
Kobayashi said she’s entering the year with a positive attitude, despite the distance model.
“I hope to become a part of the community and bring some enthusiasm and positive attitude,” she said. “I am super excited to meet [my students] and work with them this year. We’re all in this together, even though we may be separated by physical distance.”