Meet our new teachers for 2017-18


Katie Walsh

Editor’s note: The Hatters’ Herald contacted all of the school’s new faculty hires for 2017-18 and requested information and photographs for this feature introducing them to the student body. Here are those who responded.

Nicole Martone English DH

Classes: English 3 Honors 

College/Degree: Lesley University for Educational Leadership/PhD Candidate; Quinnipiac University for English Concentration/MAT; Educational Leadership/6th year; Southern Connecticut State University for English/BS.

Why I teach: I knew in my junior year of high school that I wanted to be an English teacher. I loved writing and did well in my English courses.  I really wanted to foster the love and appreciation I had for the written word in my students. I also had teachers who were really helpful and influential. This made me want to give back and do the same for my future students.

Taken by surprise: I knew that Danbury High School was a really special place, due its diversity and the range of talents that both the students and faculty share. But, as the English department head, I continue to be impressed by the passion and commitment that the teachers have to their students and to the community, which has fostered a great sense of community seen within the student body.  

Outside of school: I have two children, so spending time with them and watching them grow and discover is really important to me.  I also enjoy spending time with my family, running regularly, traveling when I can, and reading for pleasure.

Dream Trip: My family and I visited Sicily over the summer. We were able to bring our children to towns where their ancestors originated. We were also able to visit an ancient Greek theater and swim in the Mediterranean. That was a really fascinating experience. Even though it was my second time visiting Italy, I would like to go back to do more sightseeing and stay a bit longer.  

Juliette Berry

Classes: Chemistry

College/Degree: Manhattanville College for Pre-med and Biological Sciences/BS; UCONN in biochemistry/MS; Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts/ sixth year in education.

Why I teach: I love sharing science with students.

Taken by surprise: How long it takes to walk to my car.

Outside of school: I like to spend time with my three sons and my therapy dog Leonardo DaVinci.

Dream Trip: I want to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.

Brian Harwan

Classes: Math 180 & Algebra 2 Honors

College/Degree: University of Buffalo for Economics/BA; University of Bridgeport for Education/MA.

Why I Teach: I left a former career to become a teacher because I want to make a difference. I always wanted to become a teacher and mathematics has become an increasingly important subject in today’s society.  

Taken by surprise: How well the school administrators have handled the construction at the school.

Outside of school: I have three young children, so they tend to dominate my time outside of school. I also enjoy cooking and I am avid gamer when I have free time.  

Dream Trip: I would love to backpack across Australia and New Zealand.

Samantha Raup

Classes: French 1 & French 1 Honors & French 2

College/Degree: Lycoming College for French language and literature/ BA.

Why I Teach: I decided to teach to share my love of the French language and francophone cultures!

Taken by surprise: So far, I’ve been surprised at how awesome my students are! They’re bright and caring, and it’s a pleasure to teach them.

Outside of school: I like to read, hang out with friends, eat, craft, and binge Netflix.

Dream Trip: [At] the moment [it] would be to tour through Mexico, Latin America, and South America, then take a cruise to Antarctica.

Alexandria Bottleson

Classes: English 2 CP & English 2 Honors

College/Degree: University of Connecticut for English/BA, Curriculum/BS, Curriculum and Instruction/MA.

Why I Teach: I had a really inspiring teacher in 2nd grade and ever since, I have wanted to work with students. When I got to college, I decided that I wanted to teach English because I like that you can explore human nature through texts.

Taken by surprise: I’m surprised that students can get to class on time! I went to a very small high school and I can’t imagine trying to navigate these halls so quickly.

Outside of school: I love to read and shop for books. I also really enjoy playing yard games in the summer and catching up on all my tv shows in the winter.

Dream Trip: I would love to spend one summer travelling all over Europe. When I graduated from college I spent 10 days in three different countries, but it made me want to travel even more!

Adam Horvath

Classes: Study Skills & Co-teaching English 1, Algebra 1, Biology, and World Studies

College/Degree: Stonehill College for History and Secondary Education/BA; Sacred Heart University for teaching/MA. 

Why I Teach: I come from a family of teachers, and I was encouraged to earn a teaching certificate, or teaching license, while studying history in college and considering careers in research. I had been a volunteer in reading programs in high school, and in college I realized how much I enjoyed getting to know my students, helping them achieve their goals, and showing how fun and interesting it can be to learn about the world. I’ve worked as a tutor, substitute, and finally a teacher, ever since then.

Taken by surprise: I was surprised to see just how dedicated DHS students are when it comes to their classes. The far majority of the students I have worked this year have a strong desire to do well in class, and have a clear drive to achieve all that they can.

Outside of school: My personal interests include walking my dog, growing vegetable gardens, exploring foods and cultures, watching plays, and reading about everything and anything, from the works of Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez to historical engineering and new scientific discoveries.

Dream Trip: [It] would have to be one to such historical and cultural centers as Budapest, Hungary, and Lisbon Portugal.


William Kersten

Classes: SCI-B Program

College/Degree: Gettysburg College for Business Administration/BA; Southern Connecticut State University for Special Education/ MA

Why I Teach: After graduating from Gettysburg, I did sales in Philadelphia, and always wanted to teach and coach, so after coming back from a job in Chicago, I decided to go back to school to teach.  I’ve been a coach since 1993 and started my teaching career in 1995.

Taken by surprise: I actually taught at DHS from 2002 until 2006, and have been the varsity boys lacrosse coach for the past 4 years, so thankfully no big surprises.

Outside of school: My wife, three daughters, and myself have been working on our house and landscaping for the past decade or so, so that keeps me very busy.  I also am the varsity girls basketball coach at New Milford high school.

Dream Trip: I’ve been to my wife’s country of Denmark, and really loved the country and very old architecture, so I’d love to visit more of Europe and Scandinavia.   

Sara FitzGerald

Classes: Special Education

College/Degree: Central Connecticut State University for General Studies/Associates; Criminal Justice/ Associates; Anthropology/BA; Psychology/BA; Special Education/ MA

Why I teach: I used to be a sub. I was asked to come in and work full time as a special ed tutor. At the time I was studying to take my exams for law school. After a week teaching, I changed my focus and enrolled in classes to be a teacher.

Taken by surprise: The sheer size of the school and amount of people.

Outside of school: Bake, read, Irish dance.

Dream Trip: Always Ireland.

Col. Michael Port

Classes: JROTC

College/Degree: College of the Holy Cross, Germany/BA; Embry Riddle Aeronautical Science for Aeronautical Science/MA; Air University for Military Operational Arts and Science/MA.

Why I teach: I taught for several years in the Air Force and loved it.  There is nothing more gratifying to know that someone has learned something new and that you have made a difference in their life because of it.

Taken by surprise: The size of the school.

Outside of school: I enjoy running, reading, and spending time with my family.

Dream Trip: My dream trip is to go to Ireland to visit my ancestral home.

Juliann Iaiennaro

Classes: Personal Finance

College/Degree: Bryant University for Business Administration/BS; Central Connecticut State University for Business Education/MA; University of Bridgeport for Educational Leadership/ 6th year.

Why I teach: I decided to teach to share my knowledge with the next generation and to make a difference in the world on a daily basis.

Taken by surprise: I was pleasantly surprised at the high level of respectfulness and friendliness of the students.  Their willingness to learn and help each other out is outstanding.

Outside of school: I enjoy good food and conversation with with friends and family, volunteering at animal shelters and taking care of my own dog Benji.

Dream Trip: My dream trip would be to spend some time in Italy enjoying the sites, people, food and culture.


Paloma Melendrez

Classes: Spanish 1 & Spanish 2

College/Degree: Centro de Estudios Universitarios for Psychology/BA; Universidad de Monterrey for Humanities studies/ MA; Webster University for Mental health Counseling/MA.

Why I Teach: After coming back to the US, I thought it could be a good idea to teach Spanish because I love the Spanish language. Decided to get certified to teach the subject and after the first week of teaching I fell in love with this profession.

Taken by surprise: Since I taught middle school for 3 years before coming to DHS, I got surprised by old students visiting me.

Outside of school: I like to paint, write, watch crime series, and bake.

Michael Crotta

Classes: ESL for newcomers & ESL 1

College/Degree: University of Connecticut, Southern Connecticut State University, University of New Mexico, University of New Haven, Fachhochschule Schwäbisch-Hall, and Frei Universität Berlin/ German, Political Science, Secondary Education, TESOL.

Why I Teach: feel that teaching is, perhaps, the most significant mission that we as adults have in this world. Teaching is not my first career, but after experiencing much in my life, I realize that it is my most important.

Taken by Surprise: I have really been amazed by the high degree of courtesy and respect demonstrated by the students and staff alike. It speaks highly of the learning community.

Outside of school: I enjoy travel, study, dancing (Lindy-Hop, Foxtrot and Latin), surfing, hunting and gardening.  My wife and I are facilitators for the West Haven Community Garden, and we raise a large quantity of fruit and vegetables for the needy in our community. We also enjoy spending time with our grown children and our first grandson.

Dream Trip: There are many dream trips to be taken, although I have already undertaken quite a few; some of my favorites have been to Germany and Austria with my students.  I am hoping to visit Armenia and the Republic of Georgia soon.

Lynn Dewey

Classes: Child Development $ Early Childhood Workshop

College/Degrees: University of Delaware for Psychology/BA; Sacred Heart University for Elementary Teaching/Certificate; Connecticut Technical High School System for early childhood course/Certificate

Why I Teach: I admire my father who was an english teacher and an administrator later in his career. His enthusiasm for teaching and his students sparked my interest.

Taken by Suprise: The politeness of the students.

Outside of school: I love watching my two sons play soccer, Taking long walks with a friend and my dog Piper, BInge watching favorite TV shows [and] Reading on my back deck.

Dream Trip: My dream trip would be to take my family to all different parts of the country. We don’t travel much so I’d love for my kids to experience what America has to offer. Then start travelling abroad!