The Story Behind Mr. Rendell


Nicole Shaker, Editor-in-Chief

The much loved and highly regarded science teacher Mr. Rendell has been at Tenafly High School for over two decades now, but if you had asked Rendell as a college student if he thought that this was where he’d end up, he would have laughed in your face. Fresh out of college and on the path to becoming a surgeon, Adam Rendell decided to take a gap year and try his hand at teaching. Although several schools sought after him, he ultimately came to Tenafly because of the esteemed school district and the nostalgic feel that Tenafly elicited in him, being very similar to his own high school and possessing a similar population dynamic as his college.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. To start off, he was almost late to his interview because he ended up driving over the George Washington Bridge into New York by mistake (he described it as “a terrible experience”). After getting the job, he wasn’t even all that into it at first. “It was like being thrown into the fire,” he said. “I had some very difficult classes that took advantage of the fact that I was a new teacher. I had not done the normal student-teaching route that other teachers do [he had no in-class experience]. There were many days during my first year that I swore I would not go back the next day because it took so much time and work to be able to explain the subject matter in a way that would make sense to students and enrich their knowledge, while at the same time dealing with behavioral issues.” He laughed as he recalled how, back when bells used to ring in the middle of periods, students would make him think the period was over and he would naively let them go.

But he kept at it. He said that it’s a personality trait of his to never let a challenge overcome him. Now, with over twenty years of teaching under his belt, he stated with confidence that he no longer regrets failing to pursue his aspiring medical career. He described being a teacher as “a lot of fun. You get to share your knowledge and love of a subject area with students, but at the same time, you get to have their input, their influence, and their questions, their ideas, and their experiences that they share with you. It makes for a very exciting and unique job. You end up having to rethink your thoughts and to question things in order to help students better understand their life experiences. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn something new from my students.”

Rendell described his experience at Tenafly so far with the utmost fondness. “I feel very comfortable at Tenafly,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with the student population. I enjoy the sense of humor and the motivation of students at Tenafly.” Another reason he’s been with us for so long is that Tenafly is where he met his now-wife, our very own English department’s Mrs. Schwartz. He recalls one year when she had library duty period one, the same period he used to grade papers in the library. They started talking, and soon enough, they became friends. Then, he intentionally started working in the library more often to spend time with her. Eventually, using a Mercutio quote from Romeo and Juliet (which he had to research), he asked her out, and the rest is history.

Currently, Rendell teaches Freshman Honors Biology and Junior/Senior Advanced Placement Biology. His favorite subtopic to teach is genetics because of the constantly advancing modern applications of the subject matter, although he observes that students often seem most interested in the human body because it applies to them the most. Anatomy is often the most difficult to teach because of how many questions relating to students’ personal experiences come up during class, but that makes it the most fun too.

He said that he doesn’t know what the Sorting Hat would do with him if he ever did get recruited to Hogwarts, as he believes he has attributes of all four houses, but just in case you’re curious: Pottermore has sorted him into Gryffindor and Hufflepuff. One other fun fact about Mr. Rendell is that he would be teaching theatre if he weren’t teaching science.