HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ – There are some new faces hiding behind the masks at Hasbrouck Heights High School for the 2020-21 school year as Hasbrouck Heights in welcoming eight new teachers to its ranks.

The new teachers answered some questions so the students and community could get to the know them a little better. 

Anthony Dinallo, Computer Science

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Hometown: Hasbrouck Heights

College(s): Fordham, St. Peter’s

Why HHHS: I grew up in Hasbrouck Heights. I know how strong the community is and I have many great memories here. I wanted to return to be part of the Aviator family again.

Hobbies: Playing bass guitar, swimming, hiking, and Painting

Favorite Meal: Eggplant Parmigiana

Favorite Book: The Fountainhead

Favorite TV Show: Game of Thrones

Teaching Goals for this Year: To teach my students Computer Science to the best of my ability and be an active member of the HHHS community.  

Sophie Baumann, U.S. History

Hometown: Hillsdale, NJ

College(s): Temple University

Why HHHS: I have always wanted to teach high school and Heights offers a close knit community. I am excited to get involved in the high school and become familiar with the town!

Hobbies: I enjoy cooking, traveling, exercising, reading and watching TV.

Favorite Meal: French Onion Soup

Favorite Book: The Perks of being a Wallflower, Harry Potter, and Bossypants

Favorite TV Show: Parks and Recreation.

Teaching Goals for this Year: My goals are to make connections with my new colleagues and students, and teach as effectively as possible during these strange COVID times. I can't wait to get started.

Paola Calderon,  Digital Photography/Art Appreciation

Hometown: Hasbrouck Heights

College(s): William Paterson, BCC, Montclair State

Why HHHS: With my degree I can teach all art mediums, yet I majored in Photography and was very excited to see there was an opening at HHHS for a digital photography teacher. I feel that I have come full circle to teach at the High School that started my art education.

Hobbies: Travelling, spending time with family especially my 2 boys, and Art.

Favorite Meal: Blackened Shrimp over Caesar Salad

Favorite Book: Memoirs of a Geisha

Favorite TV Show: Law and Order

Teaching Goals for this Year: Becoming a stronger educator, learning as much as I can and connecting with all my students and creating a classroom of creativity, positivity and respect.

Monica Danny,  Language Arts

Hometown: Wallington

College(s): Montclair State and NJCU

Why HHHS: I like the community and wanted to be a part of it.

Hobbies: Reading, swimming, walking, being outdoors

Favorite Meal: All Seafood

Favorite Book: Of Mice and Men

Favorite TV Show: New Amsterdam

Teaching Goals for this Year: To have my students enjoy reading and help them become the best readers and writers they can be.

Heather Downey, Subject: Math

Hometown: Roseland, NJ

College(s): Muhlenburg

Why HHHS: HHHS is small and collaborative and seems like an awesome school with great students!

Hobbies: Dance and golf

Favorite Meal: Chicken Parmigiana

Favorite Book: Journey through Genius by William Dunham

Favorite TV Show: The office

Teaching Goals for this Year: I want to try to make virtual learning as seamless as possible and get to know my students even if I can't see them in person.

Tammy Gordon, Biology / Anatomy & Physiology

Hometown: Nutley, NJ

College(s): LIU College of Pharmacy / NJCU

Why HHHS: HHHS has a great reputation for academic achievement and community support and I wanted to be a part of it.

Hobbies: Reading, Scuba Diving, Running, Yoga

Favorite Meal: Too many to pick one.

Favorite Book: The Giving Tree

Favorite TV Show: Seinfeld

Teaching Goals for this Year: I’d love to be able to instill In my students the same love of science that I have and hopefully provide them with skills/information that will benefit them in their future lives/careers.

Merrill Barbone. Guidance Counselor

Hometown: Nutley, NJ

College(s): Montclair State

Why HHHS: HHHS is an extremely tight knit community, which reminded me similar to my hometown. Everyone collaborates to ensure that all students at all levels succeed. Being part of something so special like that was important to me when interviewing at various districts.

Hobbies: Yoga, running, reading

Favorite Meal: Buffalo chicken pizza. As a matter of fact buffalo style anything, I love spice!

Favorite Book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Favorite TV Show: Anything on the Bravo Network.

Goals for this Year: Advocate for my students.  Collaborate with my colleagues.  Enhance student achievement and help/guide all students towards being the autonomous young-adult that I know they can be.

Maurizio Balestra, Italian

Hometown: Long Hill Township

College(s): Franciscan University/ Rutgers

Why HHHS: This is a wonderful opportunity to build an Italian program.

Hobbies: Classical Singing

Favorite Meal: Pasta al Forno

Favorite Book: Le Avventure di Pinocchio (The Adventures of Pinocchio) by Carlo Collodi

Favorite TV Show: Lidia’s Kitchen

Teaching Goals for this Year: To allow students to explore the beauty of the Italian language and culture.

Brandon Dolce,  Science

Hometown: West Caldwell

College(s): Ramapo

Why HHHS: Because I want to make a difference in the students' lives, especially during the ongoing pandemic

Hobbies: Video Gaming

Favorite Meal: Hibachi

Favorite Book: Lord of the Rings

Favorite TV Show: Ninja Warrior

Teaching Goals for this Year: To better myself in classroom management skills and to utilize new technology in order to enhance my lessons


(Editor's Note: Michael Scuilla, Hasbrouck Heights' Athletic Director, contributed to this article.)


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