WARREN, NJ - Eighteen new staff and teachers joined the Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) team for the 2016-2017 school year opened for students on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Among the new staff are a new instructor of instrumental Music/Band Director, and a new English Department Supervisor. There is also a second new English teacher, teachers of Physics, Math, French, Italian, Spanish, Dance, a Learning Disabilities Teacher – Consultant (LDT-C), and a special education teacher in the Science Department, as well as a new media center specialist, a new nurse, a new athletic trainer and four new instructional aides.

The new Instrumental Music Teacher and Band Director is Paul McCullen, who prior to becoming a teacher worked as a professional musician working as a conductor, a guest artist, and a principal clarinetist. He earned his master’s degree in Music Education at Montclair University, and has previously been a teacher at Irvington High School. He is teaching Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Concert Band, Music Theory, and Music Appreciation.

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The new Supervisor of the English Department is James Aquavia, who had previously taught for many years at Montclair High School, where he became the department supervisor. Also, he had been previously English Supervisor in West Orange and at Freehold Regional High School. He earned his master’s degree in English at Columbia University, New York City. In addition to his duties as department supervisor, he is teaching an English 4 Accelerated class.

Other Teachers

The other new teachers include:

English Teacher Christine Kirby, who joined the faculty at WHRHS in the spring. She earned her bachelors from Villanova University in Pennsylvania, and comes to WHRHS with about 10 years of teaching experience in language arts and literacy. She is teaching English 1 and 2 classes.

Physics Teacher Jordan Back, who completed her student teacher experience at WHRHS last year. She earned her master’s degree in Physics Education from Rutgers University. While at Rutgers, Back was an academic coach and part-time lecturer. She is teaching various levels of Physics.

Math Teacher Barbara Stauber, who is a retired public school teacher, has created a second career for herself as a leave replacement teacher of math. She has worked in several large high schools in New Jersey. Stauber holds a master’s degree in education from Kean University. She is teaching Algebra, and Pre-Calculus at WHRHS into October.

French Teacher Maria Tombalakian, who has previous taught in Millburn, Randolph, and Denville. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., her law degree from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, and her master’s degree in Education in Foreign Language Education from Rutgers University. She is teaching various levels of French.

Italian Teacher Tyana Truong, who earned her master’s degree in Italian Language and Literature from the University of Pittsburgh. She previously taught Italian at Northern HIghlands Regional High School in Allendale, and at Mount St. Mary’s Academy in Watchung. She is teaching various levels of Italian.

Spanish Teacher Lisa Scherzer, who had previously taught at WHRHS as a substitute Teacher, and was previously a classroom teacher in Warren Township. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, and joined the WHRHS faculty last spring as a Spanish Teacher. She is teaching various levels of Spanish.

Dance Teacher Annanda Carmody, who earned her master’s degree in Education from Rutgers University. Prior to coming to WHRHS, she taught Dance at Absegami High School in Galloway Township. Carmody also worked with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) developing the New Jersey Dance Curriculum in 2013, including the standards, unit plans, and lesson plans. She is teaching various levels of Dance.

LDT-C Teacher Linda Zawisha, who earned her master’s degree in Special Education from Touro College, New York City, and her certification as an LDT-C from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison. Zawisha taught special education in Saddle Brook and Park Ridge schools in Bergen County, and previously worked as an LDT-C at North Warren Regional High School, in Blairstown.

Special Education Teacher James Huff, who has been at WHRHS for a couple of years as an instructional aide and coach. He is now a Teacher of Students with Disabilities in the science department. Huff holds a bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania.

Additional Staff

Additional new staff this year include:

Media Center Specialist Scott Keele, who earned his master’s degree in Library Science, from Rutgers University, and worked as a Reference Librarian for Westfield Public Library prior to becoming a Media Center Specialist in Springfield Township and now at WHRHS.

School Nurse Angela Valerio, R.N., who earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing and a School Nursing Certificate from Seton Hall University, South Orange. She previously worked at Morris-Union Juncture Commission (MUJC), and for New Providence Public Schools prior to joining the WHRHS Nursing Team last spring.

Athletic Trainer Michelle Armonda, who joined the WHRHS staff in October of 2015 as a substitute athletic trainer. She has been on the faculty as a full time athletic trainer since April of 2016. Armonda graduated from Montclair University with a master’s degree in exercise physiology. She has worked as a Clinical Project Manager at the Neurological Institute of New Jersey and as a Sports Performance Coach. Her internships included working as an athletic trainer at Westfield, Northern Highlands, and Passaic high schools, Felician College, and with the New York Giants.

There are also four new instructional aides on staff this year. They are:

Instructional Aide Bryan Hardy, who earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Montclair University, and has previously worked in education as an instructional aide for the Hunterdon County ESC and as a teacher for the Work Family Connection, also in Hunterdon County.

Instructional Aide Dominic Tasco, who has been a coach at WHRHS. He joins the WHRHS team this year as an Instructional Aide. Tasco earned his bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Ewing Township. He previously worked in Watchung Public Schools.

Instructional Aide Dorian Papianni, who is a graduate of WHRHS. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Berkeley College, she decided to change career paths into special education after enjoying her experiences substitute teaching in special education at WHRHS.

Instructional Aide John “Jack” Beckert, who is also a graduate of WHRHS and coach for WHRHS. He joined the faculty and staff last school year as an Instructional Aide. Jack earned his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Columbia Teachers’ College, New York City, and has experience working at the MUJC and Carrier Clinic, Hillsborough Township.




Among the new teachers and staff are: Sitting, from left: Italian Teacher Tyana Truong, Instructional Aides Dorian Papianni and Dominic Tasco, Dance Teacher Annanda Carmody, and Athletic trainer Michelle Armonda; and standing, from left, Instructional Aide Bryan Hardy, French Teacher Maria Tombalakian, School Nurse Angela Valerio, Math teacher Barbara Stauber, Special Education Teacher James Huff, Physics Teacher Jordan Back, and English Teacher Christine Kirby. Not in the photo: Instrumental Music Teacher\Band Director Paul McCullen, English Supervisor James Aquavia, Spanish Teacher Lisa Scherzer, Media Center Specialist Scott Keele, LDT-C Linda Zawisha, and Instructional Aide John “Jack” Beckert.