New Staff Welcomed at DHS for 22-23 School Year

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The New addition to the DHS Family.

Giselle Morales , Staff Writer

Avery Gomez, Art   

Hometown? I grew up in Danbury and went to high school here.

College and Major ? The Fashion Institute of Technology, Central Connecticut State University, and Boston University for college.

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is sewing.

Favorite part about DHS so far? My favorite thing about DHS is the students and staff. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming.

How long have you been teaching? I have been teaching for 9 years.

Why do you love teaching?  I love being a teacher because I get to share my love of art with students every day.

Did you move from another school? I previously taught at a middle school and I wanted to try teaching at the high school level.

 

Elizabeth Caico, Science  

Hometown?  I grew up in Missouri, just outside of St. Louis.

College and Major ?  University of Missouri (studied Biology) and Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY (studied Veterinary Technology). 

Favorite hobby? I love spending time with my family, being outdoors-gardening, hiking, walking my dog, riding my Peloton.

Favorite part about DHS so far? The students and how kind they all are. All of the staff and students have been very welcoming and have made me feel at home.

How long have you been teaching?  This is my first year teaching. I decided on education as a second career!

Why do you love teaching? I enjoy seeing students get interested in science. High school is such an exciting time in a student’s life and I really enjoy being there to celebrate all of the exciting times and encouraging them as they navigate through high school.

 

Robert Williams, Business  

Hometown? Garden City, NY (on Long Island).

College and Major ? Babson College Undergrad (Finance, Investments and Economics Majors), Bentley University MBA (Management), University of Bridgeport (6th Year in Teaching MBA).

Favorite hobby? Travel

Favorite part about DHS so far? The students

How long have you been teaching?   Interned and student taught at DHS (2021 – 2022) Fall 2022 is the first classes on my own to teach).

Why do you love teaching?  I always wanted to give back to the community as Education has really afforded me many opportunities and enriched my life.

Did you move from another school? Had been at P/E Investments (4 years) and IBM (20+ years).

 

Keith Brown, Business 

Hometown? Mostly the midwest.

College and Major ? The University of Michigan – majored in dance, NYU – majored in Business, Columbia University – Columbia University Business School – majored in Finance and Marketing,  University of Bridgeport – majored in Secondary Education. 

Favorite hobby? Biking

Favorite part about DHS so far? Meeting new teachers and students.

How long have you been teaching?  4 years

Why do you love teaching? I get a lot of satisfaction when I see students apply what they learn in school to solve real-world problems and challenges. 

Did you move from another school?  Yes, I moved from Ridgefield High School,  I preferred to be in a school with greater diversity among the student population.

 

Thomas Rello, Level 2 Counselor  

Hometown?  I grew up in Flushing Queens.

College and Major ? I went to Pace University for my undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology and Human Relations. I went to NYU for my masters in school counseling and guidance. 

Favorite hobby? Playing and watching hockey.

Favorite part about DHS so far? The wonderful administration and all of my students and colleagues. Everyone has been so understanding and helpful as I transition from my old school to DHS. 

How long have you been a counselor?  This is my first year as a full time independent school counselor, but I have had experience as an intern for the two years I was in my graduate program at NYU. 

Why do you love being a counselor? Getting work with and just talking to my students. Getting to know my students and learning a little about them or even helping them with the slightest task makes my job so fulfilling. 

Did you move from another school?  I am coming from an intern position to a full time school counselor from New Rochelle High School in New York. I left NRHS because they did not have room for another full time counselor and DHS was kind enough to give me a shot to be a full time counselor here. 

 

Kanalla Hay, English 

Hometown? I grew up in Mt. Vernon until I graduated elementary school. Then I moved to Danbury and have been here since. 

College and Major ? I went to Western Connecticut State University. I majored in Secondary Education and English.

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is reading.

Favorite part about DHS so far? My favorite thing about DHS is the diversity and wide range of opportunities available to students.

How long have you been teaching?  I have only taught for my student teaching internship at DHS for about 4 months, and now for the past two weeks of this school year. 

Why do you love teaching? I love having a hand in shaping who people become. It is my goal to inspire people to always be the best person they are capable of being and being a teacher is the perfect way to do so in my opinion. 

Did you move from another school? I did not move from another school. Since I graduated from DHS, I have always wanted to and planned to return as a teacher. 

 

Shanay Oseafiana, English 

Hometown? Bronx, NY.

College and Major ? Lehman College, and I majored in English Literature. 

Favorite hobby? Crafting, I love making vision boards and scrapbooking. 

Favorite part about DHS so far? I really appreciate how supportive everyone has been, it’s refreshing! 

How long have you been teaching? This is my 8th year teaching. 

Why do you love teaching? I genuinely enjoy connecting with and supporting young adults.

Did you move from another school?  I have been teaching in NYC public schools before this year. I left because of the commute, I was driving almost three hours a day!

 

Fowzia Shaham, English

Hometown? I grew up as a child in Palestine, and teenager in Monroe, CT. 

College and Major ?  I graduated from 3 universities- Sacred Heart, College University of Staten Island, and Brockport University. Major Criminal Justice minor Psychology.  CUNY Major Literature, Education 7-12, Brockport, MSED adolescent English education.

Favorite hobby?  I love gardening, and cooking!

Favorite part about DHS so far? The diverse population, and supportive staff. 

How long have you been teaching?  6 years  

Why do you love teaching? I love teaching because of my connection with students, I love learning alongside my students as well. There is an impact a teacher can leave on a kid, and I have a teacher that impacted me during my school years- I want to be that positive impact. 

Did you move from another school? Yes, I moved from Brooklyn NY (Fort Hamilton High)- my family and I relocated back to my hometown in CT.

 

Doug Belliveau, English 

Hometown? I grew up in Hartford, CT.  

College and Major ? I went to Hofstra University for my undergraduate degree.  I majored in Humanities. I got a Masters degree in TESOL from Fairfield University. 

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is snowboarding.  Hiking with my family is a close second.  

Favorite part about DHS so far? My favorite thing about DHS is the diversity among students.  It reminds me a bit of my own high school that way.  

How long have you been teaching?  This is my seventh year teaching.

Why do you love teaching? I love the “aha” moments that come with learning.  Sometimes they come to me as a teacher who is always learning.  Sometimes I get to witness them among my students.  

Did you move from another school? My family moved to Boston for a year to take care of our extended family.  I worked at Marlborough High School in Marlborough, Massachusetts last year.  We ultimately decided to come back to CT, and I was excited to return to DHS.

 

Jacqueline Helmig, ESL 

Hometown? I grew up in Queens, New York.

College and Major ? I went to the City College of New York and I majored in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Favorite hobby? Crocheting, playing video games and participating in my Bolivian folklore dance group in New York.

Favorite part about DHS so far? So far, I love the energy of DHS. The students are very motivated in class and I can’t wait to get to know them better.

How long have you been teaching? This will be my seventh year teaching. I taught for six and a half years in Brooklyn.  

Why do you love teaching? I think I love teaching because I get to create connections with students and help them build confidence in their language skills.

Did you move from another school? I moved from my old school because I wanted to leave New York and move closer to my family. I also wanted to work in a larger school. My old school only had 360 students, very tiny compared to DHS.

 

Rebecca Rendich, Math  

Hometown? I grew up near Carmel, NY.

College and Major ?  I went to college at Western Connecticut State University and majored in Secondary Education Mathematics.

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is shopping.

Favorite part about DHS so far? My favorite part about DHS so far has been meeting all of my new students and learning about their backgrounds and where they come from.

How long have you been teaching?  I have been teaching since the end of last school year.

Why do you love teaching? I love teaching because I love to help students understand math which is not always easy to understand.

Did you move from another school? This is my first school.

 

Amita Marwah, Math 

Hometown? India

College and Major ? India-Business administration and in USA-WCSU- Math Major, Bridgeport University-Masters in Edu.

Favorite hobby? Stitching

Favorite part about DHS so far? Members of this school are very helpful.

How long have you been teaching?   Teaching for 6 years.

Why do you love teaching? I want students to understand the value of education.

Did you move from another school? Yeah I moved from New Haven because I sold my house in Monroe and moved to New Fairfield.

 

Kelly Harper, Social Studies

Hometown? I grew up in Carmel, New York.

College and Major ? I went to Western Connecticut State University and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in History in 2020 and my Masters’ degree in Secondary Education: Social Studies in 2022. 

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobby is hiking! 

Favorite part about DHS so far? I love how the school has a large, diverse population. It is definitely not something that every school has to offer. 

How long have you been teaching?  This is my first year as a certified teacher. I did my student teaching & internship last year at DHS! 

Why do you love teaching? I love teaching because it gives me the opportunity to continue learning. I also have the ability to talk (literally all day) about a subject I love! It is definitely NOT a boring job!   

Did you move from another school? Nope! I’m thrilled to be back & teaching full-time at DHS!

 

Wilma Napoleao, World Language  

Hometown? Ipatinga-Minas Gerais- Brasil.

College and Major ? Western Connecticut State University. I have Bachelors in History and Master in Education concentration in Spanish.

Favorite hobby? I don’t have a favorite hobby.

Favorite part about DHS so far? DHS community is fabulously, so far I love it everything.

How long have you been teaching?   10 years. 5 years in Brasil y 5 years in CT.

Why do you love teaching?  Teaching is my passion, it’s amazing to see the students growing academically and proficiently.

Did you move from another school? I came from another district and Danbury is my town. I’m very happy to be part  of DHS.

 

Andre Green, SPED

Hometown? The Bronx

College and Major ? Marist College/ Communications/Theater Performing Arts 

Favorite hobby? Writing poetry 

Favorite part about DHS so far? It’s diversity 

How long have you been a teacher? I been teaching over twenty years 

Why do you love your teaching?  I love teaching because I know knowledge is power and to feel you belong you must have a person who can show you how to build a relationship between you and the world and I’m the person who will do my best to help!

Did you move from another school? I left the private sector, I was an administrator for the Teamsters Local237 for eight years, retired and returned to teaching.

 

Tom Clarkson, SPED 

Hometown? I am a local guy, I grew up going to Bethel schools and have lived and worked in Danbury for most of my life.

College and Major ? I went to WCSU for my undergraduate work and received my master’s in education from Mercy University in  New York state.

Favorite hobby? I have many hobbies but playing basketball, golf, and fishing are my favorites. 

Favorite part about DHS so far? I teach special education and my favorite part of working at DHS is helping young adults prepare for their future after high school. 

How long have you been teaching?  I have been teaching for 27 years and have worked in Danbury for 22 years. 

Why do you love teaching? I love teaching because you actually get to help students not only grow as learners but also can help them prepare for their future as successful members of society. 

Did you move from another school? I spent the last 22 years teaching at Broadview Middle School and a couple of weeks before the school year started my bosses called me and wanted me to move up to the high school. I was happy to make the change and have already been enjoying my time here at DHS. 

 

Melissa Liguori, SPED

Hometown? I grew up in New Fairfield, CT.

College and Major ? Western CT State University Bachelor of Arts in History, Masters (educational psychology) degree UCONN.

Favorite hobby?  Being with my family, cooking.

Favorite part about DHS so far? The staff and students! 

How long have you been teaching?   1 year

Why do you love teaching? Connecting with students and helping to make a difference in there lives.

Did you move from another school? No

 

Melissa Pirraglia, SPED

Hometown? Long Island, NY.

College and Major ? Villanova University, BA Human Services, Minors in Sociology and Psychology Arcadia University, M.Ed. Education.

Favorite hobby? Baking, gardening, working out.

Favorite part about DHS so far? It’s diversity and how many options it can provide to students.

How long have you been teaching?  10+ years

Why do you love teaching? I love working with young people and I love learning.

Did you move from another school? Yes! I taught at Bensalem High School (Bensalem, PA – the Philadelphia region) for 10 years.  My family relocated to CT last fall.

 

Alexandra McCallum, SW 

Hometown? I grew up in Weston and Newtown, CT.

College and Major ? I went to UCONN for my bachelor’s degree where I majored in Human Development & Family Studies and minored in Women’s Studies. I attended Fordham University for graduate school where I earned a masters in social work.

Favorite hobby? My favorite hobbies include cooking and gardening. I also enjoy taking walks with my husband and our two dogs, Cosmo & Lizzie when I am not at work.

Favorite part about DHS so far? The people! Everyone at DHS (staff & students) have been so friendly and welcoming, which has made my transition very pleasant!

How long have you been a SW?  I have been a school social worker since 2014.

Why do you love being a SW? I love being a school social worker because I believe it is a privilege to get to know students and their families and help empower them to be successful and happy people long after they graduate. 

Did you move from another school?  I have worked in other districts, but most recently moved from The Danbury Primary School, which was  a temporary school that was closing.

 

Nicholas Tarantino, SW 

Hometown? Newtown, CT.

College and Major ? Westconn for my Bachelor Social Work, then Fordham University for my Masters in Social Work.

Favorite hobby? Coaching football at Newtown High School.

Favorite part about DHS so far? The supportive and friendly staff.

How long have you been a SW?  7 years.

Why do you love being a SW? I love being a social worker because I enjoy being the person that students can reach out to for support and guidance. 

Did you move from another school? Yes, Ellsworth Avenue School.

 

Dora Florentino, Family Liaison

Hometown? QueensVillage New York.

College and Major ? East Central University in Dominican Republic.

Favorite hobby? Crocheting and knitting.

Favorite part about DHS so far? Meeting staff and all the different backgrounds of students in DHS.

How long have you been a family Liaison?  1 year

Why do you love your job? I get to help those families with any resources they need. Meeting new families and talking, listening to their needs. 

Did you move from another school? Before going to DHS I worked in central registration, helping families with their online registration. I felt like they needed me there to help out with the new incoming families arriving in Danbury.

*All responses gathered via survey*