The Hatters' Herald

Meet new faculty, staff for 2018-19

Jenna Coladarci, Staff Writer

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Editor’s note: The Hatters’ Herald contacted all of the school’s new hires for 2018-19 and requested information for this feature introducing them to the student body and their colleagues. Here are those who responded. (We’re digital, so it’s never too late. If your photo is missing or your bio, just email [email protected] and we’ll fix it). Photos are by Art Department head Mike Obre (thank you!) and our own Shannon Ahearn.

Meghan Gabriel (Nurse)

What is your educational background? I got my bachelor’s of science in Nursing from the College of New Rochelle. I decided to go to nursing school after working in a hospital after I finished getting my first bachelor’s degree.

What is your previous work experience? I left my job at Danbury Hospital as a Labor and Delivery nurse this summer to become a school nurse at Danbury High School.

What attracted you to DHS?  I live in Danbury and like the idea of working at a school with young people who are learning how to take care of their own health and helping them learn to do so.

What are you still getting used to? Danbury High School is a very large building with a lot of new faces and I’m still trying to figure out all the new faces and places.

Olga Carcamo (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I have a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from University at Buffalo (2014) and a master’s in Chemistry Education from Fordham University (2016)

What is your previous work experience? I worked for an industrial gas company as a chemical engineer for a couple months but did not like the slow pace of an office and I’ve always wanted to work with kids so I switched to teaching. I joined Teach For America. I had taught in New York City for four years.

What Department do you teach in? I am in the science department.

What attracted you to DHS? I just bought a house in Carmel, N.Y., and wanted to find a school closer to my new home.  However, I didn’t want to work at any school. I wanted to continue my work in diverse communities. Danbury is one of the few schools in the area that has students of varying backgrounds from all around the world. It is humbling and an honor for me to have the opportunity to be a part of the Danbury community.

What are you still getting used to?  I am still getting used to the size of this building.

What do you expect from your students? I expect all my students to be open to growth and becoming global scientists.

Brendan Gillotti (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2016 with a degree in health and physical education.

What is your previous work experience? Prior to coming to Danbury High School I worked as a health and physical education teacher at a pre-K – 8 school in Ashford, Conn. I’ve also worked in the Killingly school district prior to being in Ashford.

What Department do you teach in? Health and Physical Education.

What attracted you to DHS? I graduated from DHS in 2012 and always wanted to come back to DHS and teach here.

What are you still getting used to? Being a teacher and not a student. It was always my dream to teach here and I can’t believe it’s actually a reality now.

What do you expect from your students? That they are respectful and kind to one another.

Justin Hitchcock (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a bachelor’s degree in English.

What is your previous work experience? Before working at DHS, I worked as a paraprofessional in the Wolcott school district and also as an instructor at a before and after school program. Before I started my journey to be a teacher, I worked at Taco Bell, which was cool but you do not get as many free tacos as you would imagine.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the English department. I teach English 3, 4 and AP Lit.

What attracted you to DHS? What attracted me to DHS was its size. I considered that because of the schools size, there would be many students who pass under the radar with never really connecting to anyone in the building. With that in mind, I hoped that I could provide that connection in my classes.

What are you still getting used to? As a first-year teacher, I am still getting used to not wearing Nikes every day. Dress shoes are just not the same.

What do you expect from your students? What I expect most from my students is that they are honest with themselves regarding their academic lives. In order for us to succeed as a team, we must be working towards a common goal. Personally, I would rather the decision of what that goal is come from the student.

Kamola Rabbimova (Teacher)

What is your educational background? University of Connecticut — BA in English, MA in Education in English.

What is your previous work experience? I’ve student taught/substituted in Danbury public schools.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the English Department.

What attracted you to DHS? The diversity of student body and collaborativeness of the staff.

What are you still getting used to? I am still getting used to everything: units, scheduling, testing.

What do you expect from your students? I expect respect and consistency from my students — something they can expect from me.

Matthew Franco (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I received my bachelor’s degrees in History and Education from UConn in 2017 then went on to receive my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UConn in 2018.

What is your previous work experience? This is my first official teaching position but I did my student teaching at Manchester High School.

What Department do you teach in? The Social Studies Department.

What attracted you to DHS? The diversity of the students.

What are you still getting used to? The size of the school and planning for blocks.

What do you expect from your students? All of my classes follow two mottos: “Strive for Greatness” and “In Lak’ech.” I expect students to always put their best foot forward (“Strive for Greatness) and to show respect for everyone in the classroom community (“In Lak’ech”).

Taylor Leahy (Teacher)

What is your educational background? University of Connecticut, Communications B.A. 2015; University of Connecticut, Curriculum and Instruction M.A. 2016

What is your previous work experience?  2017-18: Full-time teacher at Trinity Catholic in Stamford; 2016-17: Long-term sub at Bedford Middle School in Westport; Long-term sub at Weston High School.

What Department do you teach in? The English Department

What attracted you to DHS? I’ve enjoyed living in Danbury the past two years and wanted to become more involved with the diverse community in which I live.

What are you still getting used to? I am still getting used to the size of the school.  DHS is much bigger than my own high school and other schools I’ve worked at in the past, so it has been a bit of an adjustment.

What do you expect from your students? I expect my students to come to class everyday with a positive attitude and to put forth their best effort.

Christopher Hartnett (Teacher)

What is your educational background? College Undergraduate: SUNY Albany (English Lit)  2006; Master’s: Universidad de Alcalá (TESOL) 2014

What is your previous work experience? French American School of New York  Assistant ESL teacher (1yr);Colegio Irabia, Pamplona Spain    ESL Teacher/ Department Head (5yrs); West End Idiomas, Pamplona Spain  ESL Teacher Department Head (3 yrs)

What Department do you teach in? The ESL Department

What attracted you to DHS? The diversity of the student population and having the opportunity to learn about students from different cultures around the world.

What are you still getting used to? The building. It’s huge.

What do you expect from your students? I expect my students to share their opinions and beliefs, to be open with their ideas, to not judge each other and to treat everyone with respect because we’re all in it together.

Catherine Blackwell (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I have a BS in Mathematics and Secondary Education from Vanderbilt University (1985) and an MBA from New York University (1990).

What is your previous work experience? I taught high school math in New Orleans and at Saint Joseph High School in Trumbull, but most of my work experience was in sales and marketing in a software company that I co-founded and is now part of Hewlett-Packard.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the Math Department.

What attracted you to DHS? The incredible student body at DHS and the chance to positively impact students is what attracted me to this school.

What are you still getting used to? I’m still getting used to some of the new technology systems such as the Flex Program.

What do you expect from your students? I expect my students to discover how enjoyable and useful Algebra is.  I expect them to learn to develop core analysis and problem-solving skills that will allow them to reach personal and career goals.

Andrew Lambo (Teacher)

What is your educational background? Western Connecticut State University – 2011 – Bachelors in Elementary Education; University of Saint Joseph – 2016 – Masters in Special Education; Southern Connecticut State University – 2018 – Sixth Year in Educational Leadership

What is your previous work experience? I was at Pembroke Elementary School for 5 years.  I spent 1 year as a third grade teacher and 4 as a first grade teacher.

What Department do you teach in? The Special Education department

What attracted you to DHS? I enjoyed working with the younger kids but wanted a new experience.  I also love the diversity that the Danbury school district has, so I wanted to remain within Danbury.

What are you still getting used to?  I’m still getting used to floating from room to room supporting students in all content areas.

What do you expect from your students? I expect them to come to school with an open mind and the readiness to work hard on whatever task that they come across.

Kaitlin McNally (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2016 with my BA in Chemistry (concentration in Biochemistry), and a minor in Biology.

What is your previous work experience?  I have had many jobs, most recently I was at Wesleyan University as a Graduate Researcher and Teaching Assistant.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the science department.

What attracted you to DHS? I was most attracted to Danbury’s diversity and dedication to educating all students.

What are you still getting used to? I’m still getting used to finding my way from my classroom to just about anywhere else in the building.

What do you expect from your students?  I expect my students to work their hardest and to ask for help when they need it.

Donna Gagliardi (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I received a BFA from Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts with a major in Painting, I received my MA from Southern Connecticut State University with a major in Art Education I have also taken art classes at Yale University, Wesleyan University, Mass College of Art, and spent  5 summers studying Painting at Bennington College.

What is your previous work experience?  I am a member of the Loft Artists Association in Stamford, the Greenwich Arts Society and the Ridgefield Guild of Artists and I exhibit my paintings with those groups. Most recently I had artwork in the the Greenwich Arts Society Annual Juried Show and my art work was sponsored by the Bank of America for Art to the Avenue. I have worked for 33 years in the elementary schools of Danbury as an art teacher, most recently at Shelter Rock, Pembroke, and Great Plain.

What Department do you teach in? The Art Department

What attracted you to DHS? Being able to see my former students here at DHS.

What do you expect from your students? I want my students to become creative thinkers, taking risks and thinking way out of the box.

Fernanda Franco (Paraprofessional)

What is your educational background?  I have a Bachelor’s in Music with an Opera Concentration.

What is your previous work experience?  I teach Music and Driver’s Education part-time.

What attracted you to DHS? I love the diversity here and I feel like it is important to be a part of this community.

What are you still getting used to?  I’m literally lost anytime I deviate from my regular route to my classrooms. Also, I am pleasantly surprised at how amazing the coffee from the Cafe is!

Brianne Perez (Teacher)

What is your educational background?  I went to Southern CT State University, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in History and a certification for Education in Social Studies grades 7-12 which I received in 2016.

What is your previous work experience? The past several years I have worked in schools in Milford, Stratford, Seymour, Oxford, and Westport, spending most of the 2017-2018 school year teaching at Weston High School.

What Department do you teach in? The Social Studies Department

What attracted you to DHS? DHS is a very diverse school that offers unique opportunities for all of their students to succeed.  It is great being apart of a school that caters to the many interests and learning styles of its students.

What are you still getting use to? I live far away in Milford so I am getting used to my commute every day. Also, I am still getting used to the size of the high school and trying not to get lost!

What do you expect from your students?  I expect my students to respect one another and create a classroom environment where all students feel they are in a safe space. I also expect students to show up to class open minded and willing to hear other people’s opinions that might be different from theirs.

Nora Ryan Anderson (School Psychologist)

What is your educational background? I graduated from Pace University in 2003 with a doctoral degree in Clinical/School Child Psychology.

What is your previous work experience? I have been with the Danbury school district since 2016 and have worked at the Ellsworth Avenue School and King Street Primary, as well as two days a week here at DHS during the 2016 school year. Prior to coming to the Danbury schools, I worked for a not-for-profit agency providing clinical services to children and adolescents at a residential treatment center.

What Department do you teach in? In my role as a school psychologist, I am part of the special education department at the high school.

What attracted you to DHS? I have worked with adolescents for most of my career and was excited to join to the high school team in order to work with this age group. As a school psychologist, I enjoy collaborating with teachers, staff, and students to help support students so they can reach their academic potential.

What are you still getting use to? As for what I am getting used to, thankfully I know my way around, but still trying to learn the bell schedule!

Stefanie Dube (Teacher)

What is your educational background? Master’s in Educational Psychology with a focus in Special Education, May 2018

What is your previous work experience? Special Education Teacher at Private School for Autism in Cedar Knolls, NJ (2015-2016); Special Education Para Professional in surrounding districts 2012-2015

What Department do you teach in? Special Education- Life Skills

What attracted you to DHS? The program, collaboration between staff, and the friendliness of staff/supervisors.

What are you still getting use to? The size of the school!

What do you expect from your students? To come to school excited to learn and work. I want my students to learn all the necessary skills to support them through their high school career and beyond.

Alexandra Grant (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I just graduated from the University of Connecticut in May with my master’s in Secondary Education, and two undergraduate degrees in education and mathematics.

What is your previous work experience? I did my Student Teaching at Manchester High School, followed by 6 months interning at schools in Nottingham England as part of my Masters and study abroad program. When I came back to finish my Masters, I had another internship at East Hartford High School. Right after graduation, I took a long term substitute position at Joel Barlow to finish out their school year. And now I’m excited to be here!

What Department do you teach in? I’m in the Math Department. Right now, I teach Honors and College Prep Geometry.

What attracted you to DHS? I really enjoyed my experience in Manchester because of its diversity.

What are you still getting used to? I’m still getting used to teaching in 80 minute blocks. Of all the schools I’ve been at, this is my first experience with them. I have to admit, so far I really love how much material and practice I’m able to get through in one class period. The longer periods give me an opportunity to create a fun activity to rehearse the content that would have typically been given out as a worksheet in a 45-minute class.

What do you expect from your students? I expect that my students are present and engaged during our time in class. I also expect that they complete assignments in a timely manner and ask for help when they need it. Finally, I have the expectation that students will actively participate in whole-group discussions to cut down on the time I have to be at the front board lecturing them. However, it is not my expectation that students must contribute full and correct responses every time they are asked to participate. We learn best from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, so the culture of respect in my room is something I really work to build between students and myself, as well as students to other students.

Monique Brown (Teacher)

What is your educational background? Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training – Northeastern University 2007; Master’s in Healthcare Administration – Western Connecticut State University 2009; Bachelor of Science in School Health Education – Western Connecticut State University 2016

What is your previous work experience? Last school year I taught health at Derby Middle School, I completed my student teaching at Joel Barlow High School in December 2016, and I have worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer at Joel Barlow High School for 8 years.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the Health/PE Department

What attracted you to DHS? I was born and raised in Danbury and graduated from DHS in 2002. I know the school and the community. It feels great to be back “home.”

What are you still getting used to? I am still trying to figure out the easiest and fastest way to get to my classroom from the parking lot, flex time, and my correct room number (I get several phone calls asking for Mr. Ascone)

What do you expect from your students? I expect for my students to be kind, respectful, and open minded.  On my desk I have the quote “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” Health class provides an environment where students can express personal thoughts and feelings, so it’s important that the environment is comfortable for all.

Augustine Tieri (Teacher)

What is your educational background? Master’s degree from Mercy College

What is your previous work experience? Worked 7 years as a History and Special Education teacher at the Kennedy Campus in the Bronx. I was also the head football coach there.

What Department do you teach in? The History Department

What attracted you to DHS? The location, school culture and the opportunity to lead the football program.

What are you still getting used to? Only having to drive 15 minutes to get to work.

What do you expect from your students? To work hard every day, respect one another and participate. We get one opportunity in life so don’t waste it being average.

Michele Reggiano (Teacher)

What is your educational background? In 2015, I graduated from Western Connecticut State University with my BA in English. In January of 2016, I entered Fairfield University’s Education & Allied Health Professions Graduate School, where I graduated this past May with my Master’s in Special Education.

What is your previous work experience? I was a Title I paraprofessional at Great Plain Elementary School in Danbury. I worked there for 2 years while I completed my master’s. I taught small group reading instruction. I completed my student teaching at a magnet school in Stratford, where I worked with students who had significant behavioral concerns.

What Department do you teach in? I teach in the Special Education Department.

What attracted you to DHS? I was attracted to DHS because of my previous experience in Danbury. I had really enjoyed teaching at Great Plain Elementary School.

What are you still getting used to? I am still getting used to the size of the school. Although I graduated from Trumbull High School, DHS is still way bigger!

What do you expect from your students? I expect my students to try their best in all of their classes.

Liliana Silva (Teacher)

What is your educational background? I recently graduated from UConn with my Master’s in Educational Psychology.

What is your previous work experience? This is my first teaching job; however, I had an internship at an elementary school in East Hartford last year and the year before, I student-taught at East Hartford High School.

What Department do you teach in? I teach special education in 9th grade.

What attracted you to DHS? I took the job at DHS because I love the team model in 9th grade and it seemed like it would have a supportive learning community for a new teacher.

What are you still getting used to? I am still getting used to how large the school is.

What do you expect from your students? I expect my students to be respectful and always try their best.

 

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About the Writer
Jenna Coladarci, Staff Writer

This is my fourth year writing for The Hatters’ Herald. I joined the Hatters’ Herald because I love writing and I am always looking for places where...

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Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800
Meet new faculty, staff for 2018-19