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

Women’s History Month 2024: Teacher Spotlights


Since 1987, March has been deemed Women’s History Month. People across the globe spend this month commemorating women’s achievements throughout history, with no feat being too small or too big. Tenafly’s staff is made up of many powerful women to whom we owe our gratitude. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some inspirational stories of five THS teachers. 

Ms. Lauren Malanka has been an English teacher for almost twenty years. As per the subject she teaches, Malanka has a strong love for reading. “Books are some of my closest friends,” she said. Malanka maintains an open-minded philosophy in education, as she believes that the best teaching happens when the teacher learns and the students teach. 

“A few years ago, I got a note of thanks that simply said, ‘Thank you for getting me to love reading again,’” Malanka said. Such reactions of gratitude enrich Malanka’s life as a teacher, and she keeps all of her “thank you” notes as a tribute to all of her students. Although Malanka has much passion for teaching, she admits that being a new teacher in Tenafly was difficult. 

“I was fortunate to have the best mentors here at Tenafly who continue to guide me,” Malanka said. “Former English supervisor Marge Boyle plus master teachers such as Mr. Whitehead, Ms. Schwartz, Ms. Hampson, Mr. Flood, Mrs. Maloney, and Mrs. Packer.” Malanka believes that a teacher must always remain a student and to always be willing to learn. “It’s fun and best that way,” she said. One piece of advice that Malanka holds dearly is to keep the faith and find purpose in serving others. 

Another source of strength in Ms. Malanka is her experience as a mother, despite the major change it brought to her life. 

“With the birth of my first child came the death of a part of who I was,” Malanka said. “In its place, new strength and understanding were borne out of the struggle and hard work of parenthood.” She further mentioned that both of her sons taught her what it means to love and have a purpose in life. 

“Being a mother is the most awesome adventure,” Malanka said. “Women can do amazing things with their bodies, their minds, and spirits. They can create life, and heal all kinds of wounds.” Malanka has always enjoyed learning about famous women who made a difference despite the impossible odds, both in fiction and in real life. “Their courage proved I could do anything I wanted,” she said. “But, the women in my family—my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, my sister—showed me I could hold my power and be nurturing.”

Ms. Celli with her daughter, Aryanna, and her son, Dylan.

Similar to Ms. Malanka and numerous parents in the world, Ms. April Celli—THS’ beloved History teacher—believes that the most significant event in her life was becoming a parent to her son and daughter. “Through their joys and sorrows, successes and failures, I have gained invaluable insights into the human experience,” Celli said. “Their presence has kept me grounded and reminded me of what truly matters in life: love, connection, and personal growth.” Moreover, the challenges that Celli faced as a mother influenced her to become a stronger woman than before.

“Experiencing the highs and lows of parenthood has provided me with a sense of balance and perspective.” Celli said. “It has taught me to cherish every moment, [and] to embrace both the challenges and the blessings that life brings. As a result, I try to approach each day with gratitude, resilience, and a deep appreciation for the beauty of life’s journey.”

Celli is also one of the few teachers who have taken their students on a trip to Europe. In 2007, Celli took a group of her students to London and Paris, where they explored iconic landmarks such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, and Versailles. Celli fondly recalls this trip as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

“Witnessing [the students’] awe and excitement as they discovered the rich history and culture of these magnificent cities was incredibly rewarding,” Celli said. “Reflecting on that trip, I realize now just how impactful it was, especially because I had the opportunity to chaperone alongside one of Teanfly’s greatest teachers and human beings of all time, Mr. Elefante, who has sadly passed away.” Celli mentions that Mr. Elefante’s wisdom, kindness, and unmatched humor left a lasting impression on those in his presence. He had the remarkable ability to turn every moment into a teachable one, whether the group was exploring historic sites or simply sharing stories over a meal. Celli says that chaperoning with Elefante served as an important reminder of the profound impact educators can have on their students and colleagues alike. 

Ms. Celli’s favorite subject to teach is European history because of her own experiences she had in countries such as Madrid and Spain. 

“I’ve done a fair bit of traveling around Europe,” Celli said. “Those experiences really opened my eyes to the rich history and culture of the continent.” Another reason for Celli’s love for teaching European history is because it gives her the chance to help students develop critical thinking skills and awareness.

 “I want them to see the bigger picture and understand how everything is interconnected,” Celli said. “It’s crucial to maintain perspective—high school is just a chapter in the larger story of life. Instead of getting bogged down by setbacks, I encourage students to focus on the positive aspects of their experiences and to remember that challenges are temporary.” She reminds her students that high school won’t define their entire lives, and that it is important to prioritize their overall well-being and happiness. 

Ms. Caroline Krueger prompts everyone to recognize and celebrate the stories and contributions of women throughout history and in the present day. “I think that it is important to recognize not only the trailblazers, pioneers, and innovators who have achieved great things, but also the women who significantly impact the lives of those around them on a daily basis,” she said. One of the women who significantly impacted Krueger’s life is her mother. 

“My mother always taught me to live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” Krueger said. “This became a guiding principle in my life.”  

Krueger has always enjoyed reading and writing. She majored in English in college and initially decided to work in the field of book publishing. “Although I enjoyed my job, I felt that it lacked the variety and creativity that I knew I needed,” Krueger said. So, she became an English teacher, which gave her the opportunity to share her passion for books and language with her students and colleagues. “It allowed me to express my personality and creativity in different ways,” Krueger said. She shares that her favorite moments as a teacher are those when students become impacted by a text or particular character. She believes that witnessing students engage emotionally with a text — whether they are cheering for a character during a challenging moment, expressing surprise at an unexpected textual detail, or even voicing disdain for a character they dislike — illustrates the power of language in connecting us as humans. As an important piece of advice, Krueger encourages her students to be true to who they are. “In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the best accomplishment,’” she said.

After working as a scientist for a while, Ms. Denise Kuehner became a parent and took off a few years to be a full-time mom. Then, she started working at the Tenafly Nature Center as an educator so that she could work part-time. It was this job that reminded Kuehner of how much she liked working with kids when she was a summer camp counselor. Kuehner is fairly new to THS, with this being her second year of teaching. She teaches science because she believes that this will enable her students to make well-informed decisions. 

“I love teaching Environmental Science,” she said. “It makes me optimistic about our planet’s future when I see that students care.” 

When Kuehner was a teenager, she went to a high school where she was challenged academically and met a group of highly motivated students. “My classmates inspired me to try new things and be more confident,” Kuehner said. “I realized I could become a scientist if I wanted to, so I did.” she explained. 

Recalling her past as a young scientist, Ms. Kuehner emphasizes the importance of  representation in society’s progress. “There weren’t that many well-known female scientists at the time, and I had fewer role models,” she said. “Women’s History Month reminds us to look for women who weren’t fully recognized for their contributions, like the scientist Rosalind Franklin.” Kuehner adds that Women’s History Month supports the fact that girls can do anything they set their goals on. Moreover, she advises her students to work hard but to not get overwhelmed by stress. “Ultimately, it’s not your grades that matter, but the kind of person you choose to be,” she said. “You got this.” 

Ms. Evanowski and her art students with their mural for The Little Mermaid.

You may have walked around the school and noticed the beautiful artwork created by students and staff, but did you know that Ms. Emily Evanowski created a mural piece for the spring musical, The Little Mermaid? This mural was Evanowski’s favorite teaching experience. Her Art Portfolio Honors students came together to design and paint the mural over the course of three weeks. 

“It was a great experience for the students, and a great show of accomplishment of their work that benefited their school community,” Evanowski said. Before the start of her four-year teaching career, Evanowski was a substitute teacher for three years. Evanowski teaches art because she finds it to be a fun and unique experience in teaching. “The world of art is ever-changing,” she said. “Something new is happening everywhere [and] every day.” 

Evanowski regards Women’s History Month to be important because of the numerous instances where women have been unsung heroes. “We have been spending some time in recent years to bring the truth to light,” Evanowski said. “A highlight of this month is to be able to recognize those people from the past, and to be more open to the truth moving forward as we write our own history.” 

As March comes to an end, it is important to appreciate and thank the women who shape our everyday lives, including the many strong women in this building. 

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About the Contributor
Meredith Ho
Meredith Ho, Staff Writer
Meredith Ho ('25) is an avid writer who enjoys doing it in her free time. She enjoys making videos, such as her segments on THS TV. Some of Meredith's additional interests are tennis and piano.