3 New Teachers, 2nd Quarter, 1 School

December: the time of year when the freshmen and the new faculty are not so “new” anymore. Still, most teachers and students can recall their first day here at SHA. Since we already know some of our teacher’s first day experiences here, we can learn more about what they like to do outside of school, how they grew from their first day, their inspirations, and much more.

Ms. Filipowicz, our new math teacher, has just graduated from Saint Joseph’e University in Philadelphia. She looks up to her sister, who is older than her by 4 years and who has really good work ethic and taught her everything. Ms. Filipowicz’s inspiration to be a teacher came from her math instructor in sophomore and junior year. “He always pushed me to try and learn,” Ms. Filipowicz explained. The reason SHA spoke to her is because of our “Excelsior” motto. To her, the motto told her to succeed, exceed, and to be admirable. “You can tell it from the girls here,” she added. On her first day, she was nervous since this is her first time teaching, but she felt welcomed. She thinks the biggest challenge for new teachers is meeting new students and faculty and getting used to the curriculum. Since her experience from her first day, Ms. Filipowicz feels she has grown to be more in control, better understand the block schedule, and is feeling better adjusted while working with students and faculty.  After school, she likes running, working out, shopping online, and watching Netflix.

Ms. Hyland, our new social studies teacher, was and still is a lawyer, and worked for the Public Defender’s Office in Fairfax County, Virginia. She looks up to many people in her life. Ms. Hyland looks up to people who are kind, refuse to give up and aren’t well known for any one thing but make other people feel better about themselves. Her inspiration to be a teacher came from her parents, since they were both teachers. The reason Ms. Hyland chose SHA is mainly because she attended our school when she was in high school.  “My husband and I wanted to move back to Connecticut. A spot opened up here and I have wanted to teach.” Her first day felt overwhelming and nerve-wracking since she wanted to succeed, but she knew everything was going to go well since she was an alumna and knew the Sacred Heart community to be one that is kind and accepting. It was her first time teaching, so she wasn’t sure what to expect. She thinks the biggest challenge for teachers coming in a new school is learning the culture and rules. Now, Ms. Hyland feels she has grown, feels more confident, and knows what to expect, but there are still challenges every day. In her free time after school, Ms. Hyland enjoys cooking, reading, going to the movies with her husband, and having fun on board game nights.

Dr. Kapteyn, the newest addition to the world language department, used to be a graduate student and TA at the University of Washington. She looks up to her mother who is not teacher but went back to school to earn her Bachelor’s degree. It impressed Dr. Kaypteyn how sincerely loving and kind she was and the way she pushed herself. Her inspirations to be a teacher came from her high school teachers and college professors who encouraged her to pursue her interest. They were teachers who were enthusiastic, creative and paid personal attention to Dr. Kaypteyn. “They made me have that love of learning, and I wanted to teach it,” Dr. Kapteyn explain. The reason she choose SHA is because she wanted the ability to teach, to have the experience to see the girls grow, and the age range was appealing. The basic mission of this school, the “be the best you can be” value with emphasis on love and appreciation for each other appealed to her, and she explains, “The pursuing to be better seemed to fit who I was.” On her first day here at SHA, she didn’t know what to expect since she never taught at an all-girls school. She has inherited four Latin classes and remembers being welcomed but receiving looks of uncertainty. The biggest challenge every new teacher faces, according to Dr. Kapteyn, is the learning process. Each school has its own social system with its own set of behavior, ways in which people interact, ethics, and rules. She also notes that each school community has its own grading policies. It is important to be able to do your job well and to process all the information in the meantime. Now, Dr. Kapteyn feels she has developed very good relationships with students and a class atmosphere which is comfortable. She has become more honest about how she feels they are doing, has learned how to push her students to improve, and has learned new and unique approaches to teaching. The students have been very helpful in giving feedback and it has been a very great experience for Dr. Kapteyn. After school she likes to read, cook, hike, and crochet.

I asked all the teachers to pick a song that described their life and tell me why. Ms. Filiowicz choose Free and Easy by Dierks Bentley. To her, it is about going with the flow and letting life take you where you need to go. To Ms. Hyland, All You Need is Love by the Beatles is the song that best describes her life. Dr. Kaptyen chose The Taming of the Hand that Came Back to Life by Sunset Rubdown. It has a really driving beat, but she admits the lyrics are weird, and you have to appreciate the weirdness!

Every day, students learn from teachers and vice versa. I asked all the teachers this question: “Who do you think learned more?” Ms. Filipowicz said, “I definitely learned more from the students. Everyone here is so confident and it helps me to be confident, too.” She added knowing how they manage time was key as well. Ms. Hyland answered, “We both learn the same amount from each other. I am not learning new material, but I’m learning it from a different perspective. Girls are learning new material and about themselves, too.” She says she is learning about herself, her strengths and weakness and is most successful when both the teacher and student are a team. To Dr. Kapteyn, the girls learned more material-wise, which is predictable, but she has learned to be more creative and adaptable on how she teaches.

I also asked all the teachers, what you think makes up an ‘ideal’ teacher. Ms. Filiowicz answered they must be very understanding, flexible to meet the needs of students and teachers, caring, intelligent, approachable and friendly and able to ensure students are comfortable and see you as a resource. Ms. Hyland said an instructor must be caring, hardworking, and curious. “As long as the teacher wants to do well and wants his or her students to do well, that is best,” Ms. Hyland added. Dr. Kapteyn responded that she wasn’t sure if there is an ‘ideal’ teacher, since people’s opinions are unique. She admitted that what makes them the most effective in teaching the students matters and that instructors must possess patience, adaptability, and control.