Fresh faces within the faculty

This year, Convent of the Sacred Heart has welcomed ten new faculty members into the community. These faculty members are beginning to get used to the Sacred Heart values and traditions during the first few months of school.
Anna Phillips '15

This year, Convent of the Sacred Heart has welcomed ten new faculty members into the community. These faculty members are beginning to get used to the Sacred Heart values and traditions during the first few months of school. Anna Phillips ’15

Anna Phillips - Co-Features Editor
Anna Phillips – Co-Features Editor

This year, Convent of the Sacred Heart welcomes ten new faculty members to the Upper School. These teachers, whose positions range from physics teacher to director of the bell choir, have been acclimating to the close-knit community during the first few weeks of school.
“The students and faculty are great to work with,” Ms. Renee Rodriguez, Upper School Spanish teacher said. “With small classes of only girls, I find that it’s easier to get to know everyone and I like to think that each class in itself is or will become its own little community.”
Mrs. Rodriguez, who is currently teaching Spanish II, Spanish IV and AP Spanish Language and Culture, is entering her sixth year of teaching, having most recently taught for two years at Avon High School in Avon, Connecticut, and for three years at King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, Connecticut. Although her previous teaching experiences have been similar to her current position, she has found some differences.
“I feel that teaching is similar wherever you go, however, I have really enjoyed the smaller class sizes because I feel that I can give more attention to everyone,” Ms. Rodriguez said.
Mrs. Anne Uglum, Upper School math teacher, has also previously taught at two other schools, including Cupertino High School in Cupertino, California, and New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York. She is returning to teaching after taking a 14-year break to raise her two sons. 
“The largest difference between Sacred Heart and my other schools were that they were public and co-ed. I’ve really enjoyed seeing how much girls blossom in a single-sex environment,” Mrs. Uglum said. “Compared to my other schools, I find the girls of Sacred Heart to be more outspoken and willing to participate and ask questions in class, a wonderful aspect for a teacher.”
Mrs. Uglum found the transition to teaching at Sacred Heart easy, but did find that readjusting to the classroom environment after 14 years presented some difficulties. 

“The transition into teaching here was both easy and challenging. Stepping back into the classroom and interacting with students was the easy part; learning the vast amounts of technology used in the classroom was more challenging,” Mrs. Uglum said. “When I left teaching 14 years ago, there were very few SmartBoards in classrooms and very few students even had laptops.”
Ms. Kimberly Becker, Upper School science teacher, has been teaching physics since 2005, and has taught at Hollywood High School in Los Angeles, California, Mayfield Senior School of The Holy Child Jesus in Pasadena, California, and Notre Dame International High School in Paris, France.
Ms. Becker has seen many similarities between Mayfield Senior School of The Holy Child Jesus and Sacred Heart, which has helped ease her transition into the community.
“I’m still getting to know the Sacred Heart traditions, but it is fun to discover each one as it comes along in the school year,” Ms. Becker said. “I loved meeting my students’ families at the Upper School Back to School Night. Everyone at Sacred Heart is so welcoming and engaging.”
Miss Michaela Gorman, Middle and Upper School Drama Teacher, is not entirely new to the Sacred Heart community. She graduated from Sacred Heart in 2005.  She has found reentering the hallways of the Upper School a fairly easy transition.
“Beginning my teaching position here has felt a bit like coming home,” Miss Gorman said. “All of the faculty, staff, and students have been incredibly welcoming and helpful. They have made this an easy and exciting transition, and I am so grateful.”
 As an alumna, Miss Gorman has had the opportunity to witness the changes that have occurred since 2005. She noted that it was particularly surprising to begin teaching drama classes in what used to be the Core Center when she was a student in the Upper School.
“Working with Sacred Heart drama students, who are so enthusiastic and talented, is a pleasure,” Miss Gorman said. “It has also been a privilege for me to return to Sacred Heart and have the opportunity to work with the educators who influenced and inspired me. I feel blessed to have such dedicated colleagues.”
Ms. Oanh-Nhi Nguyen, Upper School director of Broadcast Journalism and Broadcast Journalism teacher, is also an alumna. She graduated in the class of 2009, and also participated in the Summer Academy program when she was 12 years old.
“The faculty continues to be an incredible source of support to me, which made it a very easy transition. I feel very fortunate to be here,” Ms. Nguyen said.
Although this is her first teaching position, Ms. Nguyen also founded and directs a youth leadership and mentorship program, which contains 30 college students and 80 students in grades five through 12, which has helped prepare her for a teaching position.
Ms. Erin Ramirez, Director of College Guidance, is also familiar with the Sacred Heart community, having worked at Convent of the Sacred Heart 91st Street in Manhattan, New York.
“The most surprising thing has probably been how happy everyone seems to be at school every day,” Ms. Ramirez said. “Among faculty and students alike, the morale in the community has been fantastic. Given that I was at a Sacred Heart school previously, there are obviously many similarities to my previous experience.”
Mr. Sean Jackson, Director of the Bell Choir, is not new to the teaching world, and has been teaching since 1994. He is also partially familiar with the Sacred Heart environment, as he previously taught piano in the school’s after school music program. Although familiar with the community, he has had some pleasant surprises during the first few weeks of school.
“I think my most surprising experience thus far was having 27 girls show up for the first Upper School handbell rehearsal,” Mr. Jackson said. “What a blessing that was, but I think the girls could all tell that I was somewhat caught off guard, even though I had prayed for a good turnout on the way to school that morning.”
For Ms. Souad Malih, Upper School Arabic teacher, her current position is her first job in a private school in the United States. However, she has worked at both public and private schools in Morocco in the past.
“My first impressions of Sacred Heart are that it is a unique and impressive establishment, unparalleled in its mission to provide the highest caliber of education to every one of its students,” Ms. Malih said. “My transition into the school was relatively seamless thanks to the support, guidance and warm reception I received from the existing faculty staff and management”
Despite cultural differences between the US and Morocco, Ms. Malih has found the transition fairly easy, and is enjoying her time at Sacred Heart.
“The unwavering disciplines of the school are comparable only to the exemplary work ethic and professionalism of the faculty and staff, as well as their camaraderie and team spirit,” Ms. Malih said. “However, what is perhaps most inspiring is the enthusiasm and thirst for learning demonstrated by the students themselves, which makes Sacred Heart a very stimulating and rewarding environment to work in.”
Other new faculty include Mr. Caleb Foss, Broadcast Journalism teaching assistant, and Vivian Mosellie, Upper School spanish teacher.
Mrs. Gail Casey, Assistant Head of Upper School, believes the new teachers add many new ideas to the Sacred Heart community, and is excited to watch them assimilate into the school’s environment.
“I am so impressed with the quality and dedication of our new teachers, and we feel very grateful that they have joined us. Each of them is eager to learn about our community and committed to giving their students the best possible experience,” Mrs. Casey said. “There is so much to get used to when you begin at a new school, but I think this year’s new teachers have made the transition amazingly well.”
-Anna Phillips, Co-Features Editor