WARREN TWP. – Fourteen teachers new to Watchung Hills Regional High School were introduced to the school’s entire faculty during a staff development assembly Tuesday, Sept. 1 in the school’s Performing Arts Center.
Two days of staff development training, Sept. 1 and 2, and the Freshman Orientation Day, Wednesday, Sept. 2, preceded the opening day of school for the 2015-2016 School Year on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Six of the new faculty members are in the Arts and World Languages departments, five are in the Special Services Department or are educational specialists, and one is in the Health Department, one is in the Science Department, and one is in the English Department. Also introduced was a student teacher, Jordan Back, from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, who will be assigned to the Science Department.
The following are new faculty members in the World Languages Department.
David Weiner will teach Italian and English as a Second language. He previously taught Italian at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, his alma mater. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa., where he studied Italian. He traveled to Italy this summer, prior to starting his assignment at Watchung Hills. Weiner said he has a passion for teaching English and literacy to non-native speakers, and has served as a volunteer literacy teacher at the Plainfield Public Library.
Lorraine Harwelik will teach Latin. A graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Harwelik is certified to teach Latin and Italian. She most recently taught Latin at Elizabeth High School, and prior to that at Classical Academy Charter School and at Languages International.
Greg Wickey will teach French. He will be a leave replacement. Wickey completed both his undergraduate and graduate studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and is certified in French, Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL). He said he also has intermediate ability in Japanese, and has worked as an English teacher in Japan. He has taught French and Spanish in various public schools in New Jersey and in Guam;
Mery McNicholas will teach Spanish. McNicholas actually started at Watchung Hills mid-year last school year. McNicholas is a graduate of Rider University, Lawrence Township, and previously taught in Montgomery Township. While at Rider, she earned awards for her writing and speaking. Among her works that were honored were: Her written honors thesis: “Deconstructing Narrative Strategies in the Feminist Bildungsroman in the Works of Chicana Writer Sandra Cisneros; and her spoken presentation, “Code-Switching as a Narrative Strategy in the works of Gustavo Perez Firmat.”
The following are new faculty members in the Music and Arts departments.
Minesh Shah will be the new Band Director. Shah received his bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His first position as a band director was at West Side High School, Newark, working with students with disabilities. Prior to coming to Watchung Hills, Shah taught band and chorus at Elizabeth High School. Shah has extensive experience in working with drum corps, as well as with musical theater, and symphonic, jazz and orchestral ensembles.
Shah started on July 1 as Marching Band Director, and led students through a successful Band Camp prior to the start of school.
Emily Jordan will teach art. Jordan is a graduate of Watchung Hills, and the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, N.Y. Before returning this year to teach at her alma mater, she taught art at the Good Shepherd Academy, Irvington. Jordan has also worked as a freelance artist as well as the Community Projects Coordinator at Pratt Institute.
The following are the new educational staff in the Special Services Department.
Michael O’Brien, who is certified in both Math and Special Education, is no stranger at Watchung Hills. He has served for 10 years in multiple coaching roles and as an aide. He completed his student teaching assignment at Watchung Hills. O’Brien is now joining the faculty as a special education teacher.
Mark Wroblewski, who had been an aide in Green Brook Township schools, will now be an educational aide at Watchung Hills. He is a graduate of Watchung Hills, who went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in health and physical education at East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pa. Wroblewski will also serve as a coach at Watchung Hills.
Goodness Herrera will be an instructional aide. She has previously worked as an instructional aide and health care assistant in the Somerset Hills and Trenton school systems, and at the Midland School, North Branch. She is fluent in French and Spanish, and is completing her degree to become a certified teacher.
Marybeth Clark will join the nursing team as a school nurse. Clark holds a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from The College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, and recently earned her school nurse certification from Rowan University, Glassboro. Clark has worked as a nurse at both Overlook Hospital, Summit, and Northside Hospital, Jersey City. Prior to coming to Watchung Hills, Clark worked as a substitute school nurse in Chatham schools.
Allison Oliveira will be a school psychologist. Oliveira joined the faculty during the 2014-2015 school year. She earned her bachelor’s degree from The College of New Jersey, Ewing Township, and her doctorate from Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She continues to pursue certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and her license as a psychologist.
The new teacher to the Health Department is Sara Ahmed-Imadi, who is a leave replacement health teacher. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in health education. Ahmed-Imadi has previously taught middle school and high school health in Hackensack, and in New York in the towns of Irvington, Brewster and Dobbs Ferry.
The new teacher in the Science Department is Chasity Tedeschi, who will teach Biology. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Okla. Tedeschi has previously taught as an adjunct professor in Tulsa. Prior to coming to Watchung Hills, she taught biology in Berkeley Heights and Randolph Township.
The new teacher in the English Department is Kathryn Matulonis. She worked as a Social Media Manager and Senior Executive Account Executive prior to moving into education. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., and her master’s degree from Fordham University, New York City, N.Y. Prior to coming to Watchung Hills, she was on the adjunct faculty at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft.