Between practicing yoga, working in the Air Force, and dancing ballet, Stuyvesant’s ten new faculty members bring a wide range of talent and experience to the school community. Though their interests and past histories are very different, they all strive to stimulate students and promote a dynamic learning environment.
Christopher Bowlin, Library
A lover of all things German and a yoga instructor with 12 years of experience, Christopher Bowlin has numerous interests that led him to choose a profession as a librarian. “I always had a broad umbrella of interests, and the library was one of the places to dabble in [them] all,” said Bowlin, because of the access to so many resources like books and magazines that allow him to explore a variety of topics.
Bowlin’s experience as a student ambassador to Germany sparked his great interest in various aspects of the country’s culture such as its literature, art, and films. He also enjoys watching films from other foreign countries, going to museums, and playing soccer. In addition to teaching yoga and working in a library, Bowlin once had a stint at acting as a patient for medical students; Bowlin would pretend to suffer from any number of illnesses, and the students would attempt to make a correct diagnosis. Out of all of his experiences, Bowlin believes that being a librarian is most rewarding because, in addition to advancing his own interests, it gives him the opportunity to help students develop research skills.
Guy De Baere, Lab Specialist
Biology lab specialist Guy De Baere comes to Stuyvesant with a wealth of experience in the biomedical field. After graduating from high school in France, De Baere moved to New York and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a medical lab specialist. After his time in the Air Force, he conducted research in medical centers, clinical labs, and hospitals, with a focus on the processing and storage of peripheral blood stem cells. Since then, he has been a lab specialist at La Guardia High School for four years and James Madison High School for three years.
Although De Baere has not been in Stuyvesant for long, it has already made a lasting impression on him.
“I love it. It’s everything I’ve been dreaming of,” he said. “I’m very impressed by the resources and commitment of the school to the serious teaching of science.”
Eric Ferencz, English Teacher
In college, recent arrival to the English department Eric Ferencz, who now teaches Freshman Composition and Early American Literature, decided to major in English, because he loved to write essays. Ferencz taught English to university students in China for a year after graduating college. This is the experience that made him realize his love of teaching and inspired him to become a high school teacher. Ferencz has some interest in working at a university again in the future, “but I prefer [teaching] high school students, because they are able to speak their minds freely, unlike college students,” said Ferencz.
In his free time, Ferencz enjoys playing the guitar and developing his talent for comedy, having spent two summers performing stand up comedy. His goal for his students in Stuyvesant is “to recognize the power to write effectively,” he said.
Lisa Greenwald, Social Studies Teacher
A dancer who likes to wear wigs and speak in a variety of accents may seem like a peculiar description of a history teacher, but the idiosyncrasies of Lisa Greenwald make her all the more interesting as a teacher. Greenwald, who has lived in England and France, says the time that she spent there, along with her experience studying women’s history in Europe, is what led her to decide to become a history teacher.
Aside from teaching, Greenwald is very passionate about dance, especially ballet. She has practiced ballet since she was a young girl, but claims that it is not something she would pursue as a career. Before becoming a teacher, Greenwald was a consultant for non-profit and charity foundations in New York and France.
She is eager to teach students who are devoted to learning and motivated to evolve academically. “I would love students to be able to acquire a passion for history and to see the relevance of history in understanding the world in their own lives and their futures,” said Greenwald.
Victor Greez, Social Studies Teacher
Victor Greez’s love for social studies stemmed from the conversations he and his father shared during his childhood about the daily news. He has been a teacher all of his adult life, having previously taught at Bronx Science High School. He chose to teach because it gives him the freedom to choose what to do in the classroom. “I look at myself as an artist, and I’m creating a picture of a past event as a historian,” Greez said.
At Stuyvesant, he teaches Global History and United States History. When he is not teaching, Greez spends most of his time with his two years old twins. In addition, Greez has a passion for bicycling, having once led a bicycle tour across the United States and another in Europe.
Samuel Konstantinovich, Mathematics and Computer Science teacher
Mathematics and Computer Science teacher Samuel Konstantinovich comes to Stuyvesant after seven years of teaching at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, New York. A Stuyvesant alumnus himself (’95), he returns for the “opportunity to bring more [computer science] knowledge to [his] students,” he said. He is impressed by the great variety of classes in the school.
Given his roots in Stuyvesant, Konstantinovich feels a special rapport with his newfound place of work. “It’s nostalgic and definitely interesting to work with some of my former teachers,” Konstantinovich said.
Xue Pan, Chinese Teacher
Having emigrated from China two years ago, Stuyvesant’s newest Chinese teacher, Xue Pan, has been looking forward to her first full-time teaching job. While studying at New York University for her graduate degree, Pan worked as a student teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School. “If I wasn’t a teacher, I’d probably be doing something in music or movies,” Pan said, having often sung and performed on stage throughout high school and college.
She believes she can relate to the students at Stuyvesant because she attended high school in China. “The education system is intense. I studied until 12 A.M. everyday,” she said. She is very aware of the competitive atmosphere of Stuyvesant, but she hopes to create a classroom where everyone helps each other instead of competing.
“I will try to teach as best as possible,” Pan said.
Jessica Quenzer, Biology Teacher
Though Jessica Quenzer comes to Stuyvesant with four years of teaching experience at Nest+M High School and the High School of Economics and Finances, she hasn’t always been a science teacher. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, Quenzer was a videogame tester and was one of the first few to search for bugs in games like the first Sims and God of War.
“When testing out the Sims, I was able to get the characters to die ten minutes after generation,” she said. “That’s not supposed to happen.”
After college, Quenzer did research in bioengineering, having conducted successful experiments on mice to test the effectiveness of a drug for brittle bone disease. She has also done work with cryogenic freezing, which entailed freezing the embryos of genetically engineered mice and injecting their DNA into surrogates.
For Quenzer, teaching at Stuyvesant is another exciting experience to be had. Although it’s taking some time to adjust to “such a big school, I am definitely happy and excited to be here,” she said.
Lina Rocchio, Italian Teacher
Replacing Vito Recchia as Stuyvesant’s only Italian teacher, Lina Rocchio has high hopes for her new students. Born in Italy and raised in Argentina, Rocchio moved to New York when she was 16 years old. After attending both the College of Staten Island and Hunter College, Rocchio began her teaching career at High School for Environmental Studies in 1993. “I like the students [at Stuyvesant]. They are very focused and treat the staff and each other with respect,” Rocchio said. “They are diligent and want to learn. Overall, I have a very positive first impression.”
In her spare time, she works with her son to gather information about rural people in the Italian town of Gallo Matese. She uses this information to create videos explaining their songs, tools, traditions, and food. Her main focus is studying the usage of pillow or bobbin lace in the village.
Rocchio hopes to inspire some interest in Italian culture in her students. During her 17 years at High School of Environmental Studies, she headed a Heritage Club that hosted cultural dance performances and other cultural events. She also headed a club that focused on vintage clothing—members would organize events for which they came to school dressed up in styles from the 20′s to the 80′s. “I hope that at Stuyvesant there can be a focus and direction towards the preservation of culture,” Rocchio said.
Thomas Strasser, Physics Teacher
“It was always clear to me, even from early on, that I would be a teacher. I would always be explaining stuff to my younger brother,” Stuyvesant’s newest physics teacher Mr. Thomas Strasser said. Born and raised in Austria, he attended the University of Vienna and later taught at a local high school. In 2003, he was recruited by the New York City Department of Education to teach at DeWitt Clinton High School.
“It’s different at Stuyvesant. It’s very quiet in the classroom and in the building. There’s no drama,” Strasser said. “Everyone is very professional.” If Strasser wasn’t teaching, he believes that he would still be in Austria working in a museum or teaching workshops. But as a new teacher at Stuyvesant, he hopes his students will “develop an appreciation for the sciences, in particular, physics,” Strasser said.