Walking quickly through maze-like hallways, getting pushed by little people with large book bags, looking at each room number to find the correct one and carrying coffee in one hand while clutching notebooks in the other are all experiences that a first-year teacher at Stuyvesant High School has during his or her first day at school.
David Mandler (English)
Dr. David Mandler began studying English in 10th grade and hasn’t stopped since then. His favorite thing about the subject is that it allows a reader to have the experience of “vicariously entering someone’s life through literature,” Dr. Mandler said.
Before coming to Stuyvesant, he taught at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens. So far, he likes Stuyvesant but admits that he is still adjusting. “I have to get used to it, especially since it is ten times larger than the Baccalaureate School,” Dr. Mandler said.
He started teaching because of his own love for learning, and he believes that teaching is merely an embodiment of his thirst for knowledge.
Apart from teaching English, Dr. Mandler enjoys playing the piano and studying 19th century literature. In fact, he received his doctorate in Victorian literature.
Maya Zabar (English):
At one point in her life, Maya Zabar held being a teacher as one of the farthest thoughts from her mind. “I didn’t know what I wanted to be in high school and college. I felt as if somehow, I was out of the loop,” Zabar said.
When she started attending New York University (NYU), she decided to study anthropology. “I imagined myself in Africa working with gorillas. I was very imaginative,” Zabar said. However, she later fell in love with philosophy and switched majors.
After graduating from NYU, Zabar tried her hand at several jobs as a secretary and several jobs as a graphic designer before realizing that she wanted to be a teacher. “I loved reading and giving instructions to other people when people had questions at work,” Zabar said. “I just kind of put the two together, and I went back to school.” She then received her second bachelor’s degree in English.
Her favorite part about teaching is when students grasp something they have difficulties with. “I like when [students] have an A-ha! moment and everything comes together, and they get it,” Zabar said. “That’s the best feeling in the world.”
Although her experience in Stuyvesant has been brief, Zabar likes what she sees so far. “People are excited to be in school,” Zabar said. “They want to learn, and they are enthusiastic in the classroom. And they laugh at my jokes.”
Peter Martens (Physics)
If you are ever in need of someone who speaks Peter Stuyvesant’s 17th century dialect of Dutch, look no farther than Peter Martens, the newest member of the Stuyvesant physics department.
Before arriving at Stuyvesant, Martens worked as a research and development engineer, but his love of working with people led him to teaching. Martens previously taught at the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School, now earning him the coveted Specialized High School ‘Triple Crown” award.
Martens’s favorite aspect of physics is that it is “not just cramming stuff in your head, it’s developing your brain,” he said.
Martens has also taught fencing for 15 years.
Christopher Brown (Math)
Christopher Brown, a teacher of both math and computer science, started his teaching career as a tutor for college students. “While working as a tutor at the University of Georgia, I realized I quite like this line of work. It’s rewarding,” he said.
Before his time at Stuyvesant, he taught at Middle School 203 in the Bronx.
Brown’s favorite aspect of math is that “it is the language of nature,” he said.
His favorite part of computer science is its little quirks. “I think it’s the little things—acronyms like GNU—that bring the zing,” said Brown, referring to the recursive acronym for the computer operating system Gnu’s Not Unix.
May Herrera (Math):
May Herrera was a math teacher at Townsend Harris High School before she transferred to Stuyvesant High School for the start of the new school year. She got into teaching because she loves math and wants to share her passion with her students.
“I want my students to see that math is everywhere and it’s fun,” Herrera said. “I love teaching and interacting with students, […] especially helping the students connect the different concepts in math.”
Herrera has been enjoying her time in Stuyvesant thus far. “It’s been a great experience,” she said. “In Stuy, the students will search for deeper meaning in mathematics and question more because they all love math.”
Besides her love of math, Herrera has a passion for languages. In fact, besides English, Herrera can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Shanghainese. “I love learning different cultures and languages,” Herrera said.
Marissa Maggio (Biology):
Do you love Crybabies, Sour Patch Kids and the newest problems of Serena, Blair, Nate and Dan? Well, look no further than the 7th floor. Marissa Maggio can keep you in the loop of the latest episode of Gossip Girl and just about every other TV show, while sharing her love of sour candies with you.
Marissa Maggio has been a teacher for the last ten years. Before coming to Stuyvesant High School, however, she taught at the High School for Environmental Studies. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) at the University of South Florida, Master of Arts (M.A.) at New York University and M.A. in biology at Queens College, Maggio didn’t want to go to medical school.
“At that time I was not excited about four more years of school,” Maggio said. However, she still wanted to stay in the science field. While helping her brother and his friends study before their tests, she discovered she would make a good teacher.
During her first few weeks on the job, Maggio has had a great experience at Stuyvesant. “It’s been wonderful. Everyone has been really nice. My students are super studious,” Maggio said.
Her favorite part about her job is getting to know her students and their different quirks. She enjoys finding out different ways to teach different groups of students.
Eric Weil (History):
Before coming to teach history at Stuyvesant, Eric Weil taught criminology and criminal justice at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn. Weil got into teaching as a second career after closing a women’s clothing sales organization that he managed with his father. It was then that a friend suggested that he should try teaching since he was good with kids.
“The thing I like most about teaching isn’t the subject so much as it is the people that I spend my time with, the kids,” Weil said. “They keep me young.”
Weil’s experience at Stuyvesant has been fantastic and exciting so far. “The staff has been overwhelmingly helpful and the students are extraordinary,” Weil said. “I am not only enjoying being able to challenge them but being challenged by them. The thrill that I had when I first became a teacher, walking in and dealing with history and the kids is back. This has been an extraordinary experience, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
When he isn’t teaching, Weil enjoys the outdoors. “I sometimes go winter camping up in the Adirondacks, around Lake George or further up north to go skiing,” Weil said.
Arthur Griffith (Technical Drawing):
Arthur Griffith is extremely accomplished and has two technical degrees—one in computers and one in general industry. Despite the significant difference in salary, Griffith decided to become a teacher instead of working in an industrial field because he wanted to educate children.
“It would be more of a challenge for me if I were to train other children to do the thing that I love to do.” Griffith said.
Before transferring to Stuyvesant, Arthur Griffith taught at the junior high school I.S. 204 in Long Island City.
One of the best things about his job, according to Griffith, is watching the children learn. “Sometimes they get frustrated when they see an object that they find difficult to draw, but you see their faces light up when they find the technique on how to get it done, because like everything in life, it’s all about technique,” Griffith said.
So far, Griffith has had a pretty good experience at Stuyvesant. “The students are attentive. They are having some challenges, but they are doing fine,” Griffith said.
Griffith tries to help his students overcome these challenges by incorporating real life situations into his lessons. “I like to show kids things that they will most likely encounter when they leave, so when they leave, they won’t be shell-shocked” he said.