The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

 A Look into THS’s New Staff and One Teacher’s Promotion to Supervisor

Teachers—who grade your tests, quizzes, and assignments—greatly determine your interest in the subject, and so does the passion they have. It’s generally acknowledged that they make a profound impact on our knowledge. However, the completely uncovered life isn’t always obvious. Teaching—and school counseling, for that matter—isn’t  just an “easy job.” It’s important to know how new teachers and guidance counselors may handle things differently from experienced teachers.  

 

Ms. Natalie Kohan – Guidance Counselor

Ms. Natalie Kohan

Involuntarily attending school can become draining. You may lack the motivation to get out of your cozy bed in the morning and the assignments can take a toll on your mental health, making your life stressful. You probably want to vent or ask for advice from a trusted person. Our school’s guidance counselors are available to assist anyone longing to crawl out of the rabbit hole of stress.

Ms. Kohan is an advocate for students who consistently feel stressed, whether it be by college decisions, personal conflicts, or assignments in general. A more superficial topic she helps students with is getting them involved with clubs, which can help with stress. She also has the authority to make students visit the in-school therapist. She reiterates the idea that students are too caught up in the future and not in the present, which “ could kind of cause a spiral of ‘I have to do this’ and ‘I have to do that’ and not noticing that a month passed,” she said. She says that this is a common problem she witnesses in Tenafly with very “bright students.”

Kohan graduated from Binghamton University in New York. Soon, she became competent in understanding emotions that students are prone to feeling. She received a degree in human development, and she minored in education. Kohan was a guidance counselor in Riverdale High School before she transferred to Tenafly. In the same way that experiencing a new high school can be challenging for students, Kohan faced her own issues as a new counselor. She reminisces about the first week when she was new and students often asked questions that she understood but wanted to be able to answer with certainty. “Give me a few months and I’ll totally get there,” she said. 

Now that she’s gradually getting the hang of things here, she has procedures that she, as a guidance counselor, must follow. Kohan recommends a planner to any student whose grades are slacking because she cares about their well-being. She is eager to watch her students grow.

Ms. Jenna Alvarez – Math Teacher

Ms. Jenna Alvarez

In our vast school, there is a room embellished with vibrant artwork affixed to the cabinets and walls. The room was decorated by Ms. Alvarez. Although it wasn’t written in stone for her which subject to teach, she used to play “teacher” with stuffed animals as a little girl. “I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. She realized that becoming an algebra teacher suited her skills. 

Alvarez graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2022, where she studied math and math education. She was decisive in becoming a math teacher. “I went to college knowing I would teach math,” she said. She also earned a masters degree in curriculum and instruction. It’s safe to say that she spent a lot of time calculating problems, but she also has had a passion for volleyball ever since 5th grade. After teaching, she quickly puts on a uniform and heads over to Cresskill High School to coach girls volleyball. 

Alvarez is grateful for the ability to establish relationships with her students. She cherishes the bonds with students even outside of the classroom. She is mindful of the fact that students may have difficult lives outside of math class. “While math class may be the most important part of my day, I do understand that that’s not the most important part of everyone’s day,” she said. She is familiar with how kids and teenagers behave, which is crucial for her job.  “[I make] sure that I am building those relationships and getting to know what teenagers are like,” she said. “Knowing the current trends and everything and being young helps me with that and being in the know of what’s going on in [students’] lives is something that I am really happy to do.” 

Alvarez wants people to be aware of the fact that math class is the number-one thing on her brain while she is in class but while she’s not teaching, she has a complicated life, too, and that students should respect that.

Alvarez emphasizes that she is excited to watch the first bunch of students grow into seniors. “I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone grows and progresses throughout high school,” she said. 

 

Mr. Adam Rendell – Supervisor of Science

Mr. Adam Rendell

In addition to hiring new teachers, THS also sometimes promotes teachers to administrative positions.  Although he is not a new teacher—quite the opposite, in fact—Mr. Adam Rendell, who was appointed Supervisor of Science this year, has made an extreme impact on the school’s Science Department, which deserves to be recognized. 

Learning how to weigh two sections of AP Biology, as well as Freshmen Honors Biology, is a process that requires effort and care, but if anyone can do it in our school, it’s Mr. Rendell. “If I can help students become better engaged in science and to love science to a good capacity, then I have been successful in my job,” he said. The influence that Rendell has on the Science Department is not overlooked and can be seen through the growth of his students’ knowledge and determination to thrive in his courses. 

Rendell’s passion for science started when he was a child, which in the future led him earning a bachelor’s  degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Later on, he earned a master’s  in science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and then a  master’s in educational leadership at Columbia Teacher’s College. So, needless to say, if you have any science-related questions, Rendell is your go-to. You might find Rendell treading through the depths of the science wing on his way to change young minds, as well as students rushing to his class in order to not be late.

In his new role, Rendell will observe and assist his science colleagues. Seeing him at work, in both the classroom and as a supervisor, is how you know that he is truly making a difference. 

 

Mr. Timothy Gardner – College Counselor

Mr. Timothy Gardner

The college application process can be stressful and draining. Some students like going through the process by themselves, but some need guidance. Thankfully, Tenafly High School offers help with not only upperclassmen but underclassmen who are trying to understand the college application process better, and he strives to alleviate the upcoming stress they are going to experience during senior year. 

Through the guidance office maze, you can find our new college counselor, Timothy Gardner. He welcomes all students from different grades to come and use his vast knowledge on colleges to get a clear perspective on their future plans. With Gardner’s four-years of experience prior to coming to Tenafly High School, he has learned how to advise young kids and be a support system through the inevitable stressful times students go through. 

Gardner attended the University of Maryland and majored in psychology, but after he graduated, he coached women’s basketball for 15 years. Although his passion for basketball is deep, he decided that being a high school guidance counselor was a natural step. “One of my main reasons for coaching was to impact young women, and I decided to make a career change with a family and wanting to not travel around the country all year long,” he said. The care that Gardner has for growing minds is not overlooked, which can be recognized through his willingness and effort to support students in their future decisions. “I just wanted to keep making that impact, so it was a natural transition to go back to school and get my master’s in school counseling and impact in that way,” he said. His office is always open for walk-ins, which creates a welcoming environment for any student in need or interested in learning more about scholarships, financial aid, early decision and early action, and much more. 

 

Mr. Alonso Escalante – Physical Education

Mr. Alonso Escalante

For students, P.E. might seem like a regular extracurricular with no significance. With the right teachers, it can mean so much more. Alonso Escalante, also known as coach Esco, is one of our newest additions to the amazing staff of the Tenafly High School. He felt like he was suited for Tenafly to reach its potential. He attended Springfield College and majored in physical education and a minor in coaching. Throughout his life, he has had physical education teachers who inspired him to become a teacher. During his senior year, he knew that eventually, he would become a football coach and teacher. His history as a football coach started when he was in the NFL. He was an “offensive assistant” in the NFL which explains why his favorite team is still the New York Giants. 

Escalante is someone who understands that students might want to relax and have an enjoyable experience in P.E. ”I just want to make sure that the class is fun,” Escalante said. “I think that’s the number one thing. I want [students] to be able to walk away from the class relaxed.” He also said that he wants  to make sure that kids understand how physical education can benefit them not only physically but mentally.

He sets an example for what future coaches/teachers should aim for by listening to the students and what they feel. He takes pride in being a coach and having the ability to build a community. By engaging his students in the physical and mental aspect, he shows us that he is an amazing teacher and we are so lucky to have him teaching at our school. 

 

Mr. Keith Devereaux – Science Teacher

Mr. Keith Devereaux

Mr. Devereaux is one of the new additions to the Science Department here at THS. Before joining us, he obtained a science degree at Richard Stockton University, located in South Jersey. Following this, he worked at New Milford High for 16 years as a science teacher, department chair, and volleyball and baseball coach. While he’s still a coach at New Milford, Devereaux now has to integrate himself into the THS community despite the struggles. “Just learning new things [is hard],” he said. “I was at New Milford for so long, and I was the department chair. I knew everyone in town and knew everyone in the school. I knew every kid and their families. And now I’m kind of starting from square one,” he said.

 Devereaux had always had an interest in science growing up, but he truly realized his passion for the subject in his sophomore year of high school after having a great science teacher, Mr. Deia, who inspired him to teach, and after whom he now models his style of teaching. He enjoys connecting with his classes, using witty humor in class to provide students a fun and enjoyable educational experience.

Besides teaching biology, Devereaux enjoys different hobbies such as scuba diving, barbecuing, coaching volleyball/baseball, and spending time with his family. Being a coach is not only a hobby for him, too. Juggling his passions of teaching science and coaching is not always easy. “I mean, it’s long days. So on game days, I’m at school by 7:20 and I’m not getting home until 8:00, 8:30, so they’re long days,” he said. “And the older I get, the more difficult it is to have the energy to keep going. But I enjoy it, which is why I keep doing it.” Despite some tiring nights, Deveraux is willing to devote time to his passion of teaching, which makes him a great new addition to the school. 

 

Ms. Lindsay Kelly – School Nurse

Ms. Lindsay Kelly

Ms. Kelly was recently hired as a new nurse to replace Mrs. Millar, who retired last spring. Prior to becoming a healthcare professional, Kelly studied nursing at Northeastern University for five years, earning her bachelor’s degree. Currently, while also working at THS, she is also enrolled at William Paterson University in the school nurse certification program. Kelly always knew she wanted to teach, but specifically being a school nurse was not her original ambition until she changed her major from general studies to nursing at the last minute, which she considers a great decision.

“Now I couldn’t imagine doing any other job,” Kelly said. “Nursing is the profession I was meant for.”

Working at a new school is a big adjustment for all new staff, but Kelly is enjoying it so far.

“I look forward to getting to know the staff, the students,” she said. “I look forward to people getting to know me, so there’s a level of familiarity and comfort. And I look forward to…spending the next part of my career here.”

Besides being a nurse, Kelly enjoys other hobbies such as gardening, walking her dogs, and being an avid soccer mom. Having children inspired her love for being around and working with kids. Previously, Kelly had only worked around younger children. She was “accustomed to working with over a thousand people, but not in the high school setting.” So this makes the environment of the high school even more new to her. All in all, Kelly seems excited to learn about and help the community of Tenafly High School. The THS community welcomes her with open arms.

 

Ms. Lucy Fan – Science Teacher

Ms. Lucy Fan

Almost every year, Tenafly High School students are introduced to new science teachers who want to influence young minds. The Science Department at THS is extensive and offers classes for a variety of levels. This year, the school hired Ms. Lucy Fan, who has brought her radiant energy to Chemistry and Honors Physical Science for freshmen and sophomores. 

Fan attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in chemistry, which was a passion she had had since high school, when she decided to go into STEM. Although the THS block schedule was confusing to her at first, she “met wonderful graduates in this community,” she said, which was the main reason why she wanted to come work at THS as well as share her vast knowledge of science.

You can find Fan in the chemistry classrooms, which evoke a welcoming energy that motivates students to succeed in her class. Fan’s 9-year teaching experience in science is reflected in the way she conducts her class and her willingness to see her students thrive. In addition, Fan enjoys getting to know all the different science teachers in the department and learning about the school’s traditions and community. 

 

Ms. Tina Schweid – Leave Replacement Guidance Counselor

Ms. Tina Schweid

Though she is a leave replacement for Ms. Ihn, who is out on maternity leave, Ms. Schweid is working as a full-time counselor and helping students with profound choices. She impacts our lives by helping us throughout our day-to-day struggles such as making student schedule changes and  helping seniors with college decisions. Schweid also supports individual students with their academic skills. 

Schweid has been working at THS as a leave replacement guidance counselor for Mrs. Ihn for the past 4 weeks. Originally, she was a 5th grade teacher, and then after that, she was a temporary guidance counselor for a year and a half. Prior to working at Tenafly, she worked at Dumont High School. So far, she has met with many of her students, most of them seniors. “I’ve gotten to know them really well because I’m working with them and helping them,” Schweid said. One job of a guidance counselor is to direct seniors in the right direction and to help them with their college decisions. Overall, Ms. Scheid said she  is extremely happy to be at  our amazing school, and we thank her for guiding us.

Every day, teachers face the challenge of controlling and preparing a classroom. It’s evident that most teachers put a great deal of effort into each class they teach. What we may not know is what they’re feeling and thinking behind every smile, whether it is genuine or not. They may feel compelled to maintain an entertaining personality even when they’re having a tough day or have stress in their own lives. They persist in teaching materials that the students fully comprehend. Teachers and counselors also grow and improve throughout the years, so it’s important to be patient with them and let them know that you appreciate them, especially if they’re new to the job.

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About the Contributors
Serra Cetin, Staff Writer
Serra Cetin ('26) is excited to write for The Echo for the first time. She enjoys writing stories about current events, entertainment, and expressing her opinion in opinion pieces. She plays piano and is on a dance competition team.
Val Reyes, Guest Writer
Val Reyes ('26) is excited to write stories in The Echo about pop culture, current events, and student life. In her free time, she likes music, painting, and baking pastries.
Hila Litvin, Staff Writer
Hila Litvin (’27) is excited to join The Echo. Other than having a passion for writing she also enjoys reading books and she loves acting. In her spare time, she does taekwondo, sings, and hangs out with her friends.