Ms. Brenda Yoo Takes on Role as THS Vice Principal


Ms. Yoo

Dina Shlufman, Managing Editor

Ms. Brenda Yoo, the former principal of Mackay Elementary School, joined the Tenafly High School team this school year as she assumed the role of vice principal.

What does that job entail? “I am in charge of student discipline,” Yoo said. “Anything that really has to do with the Tiger Q., I’m in charge of, from dress code, to attendance, to lanyards. I also work with Student Support Leaders. I am a supervisor for them. I am also in charge of all of the 504 meetings that happen out of the guidance department…When Mr. Morrison is not around, I am the second captain.”

Yoo attended Brandeis University as an undergraduate. Her first job out of college was a teaching position at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey. “It was one of the best experiences that I had,” she said. “I felt very comfortable with the community. When I was teaching there, my mother had gotten into a very bad car accident and I couldn’t be in school for a couple of days. It’s amazing what the community did for me. We would do mincha and the entire school would pray at three o’clock for my mother. I still cry over that. This is a big school; it’s like 900 kids. Randomly, I would get food dropped off at my house, and I received the sweetest notes. They would say something like ‘Ms. Yoo, I’m not sure if this is the food that your family would enjoy, but this is what we do for our community.’ It was just such a wonderful experience there. Even to this day, it makes me so emotional.”

Yoo is also a certified dyslexia specialist and attended Teachers College at Columbia University for her master’s in education. In 2005, she entered the Tenafly district and became a fourth grade teacher at Smith Elementary School. Then, she became an elementary literacy staff developer where she provided educators with reading and writing teaching methods. After that, she worked as the principal at Mackay Elementary School for seven years. In summary, for the past 18 years, Yoo has worked as an elementary school educator across the Tenafly schools. After some soul-searching, Yoo realized that she loves curriculum and instruction, and wanted to follow up again with the students that she had taught in elementary school. This led her to research the Tenafly High School curriculum and instruction, where she now loves working with Mr. Morrison. 

When asked about what she is looking forward to this year, Yoo said, “I am very excited about the Pep Rally as the last Pep Rally I attended was when I was in high school. I am really excited about seeing my former students and I’m also excited to meet new students. I am also excited about the arts program. I think it is more robust than what is offered at the elementary schools…I am excited about everything the high school has [to offer]!”

In her free time, Yoo said “[she loves] to eat!” She loves being in the cafeteria. She has two sons, one of whom is in fifth grade and the other of whom is only two years old. They both indulge her love of food: “We’re big foodies!” They enjoy checking out different restaurants in the area and in New York City. They especially love all types of seafood, and Yoo said that she’d love to go to Greece to try their fresh seafood. Her family members are also big campers. Yoo also likes singing, although she said, “I’m not very good!” One of her favorite authors is Amy Tan. She said, “I was able to identify with her main character[s] because Amy Tan is Chinese-American and all of her characters are female, and she writes about struggles that they have. Many of them are biracial or in biracial marriages [and they also face the struggles of] being first-generation. Growing up, those were my struggles. I felt like she was writing about me and things that I go through.” 

Ms. Yoo with her family.

In high school, Yoo said, “I was really good at math, but I hated math classes! I loved art classes. I loved English classes. That is my passion too. I am an English teacher. I am a literacy person. I don’t know if I was great at it, but I loved the classes.”

When asked about what advice she’d like to give the student body, she said, “What I would give to be back in high school. Looking back, while it wasn’t easy (I was stressed too), this time doesn’t come back. This time does not come back. I want everyone to just relax a little bit. Enjoy. Have fun. Enjoy this time with your friends. Be connected in school, not just [with] academics, but extracurricular activities. Just have fun. Some of my friends till this day are my high school friends. You have to cherish your friendship[s]. [My high school girlfriends] are the girls that carried me through.”

Yoo wants everyone to know that she is a fun person, but she also believes in rules. She wants to have fun with the students this year and wants everyone to do the right thing.