QA With New Teachers at LHS

Joseph Williams:

What’s your childhood story?

It’s a pretty straightforward story.  I was the oldest of six boys.  My Dad was a Newton native and my Mom was an immigrant from Jamaica (Chinese by ethnicity.). I grew up in Concord MA, went to school to become a filmmaker and video producer.  I switched careers in my mid forties to become a teacher.

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

I teach computer science at LHS, but I’ve taught many other subjects in previous positions.  I’ve taught Business, Engineering, even Filmmaking.  I hold three Mass licenses — English, Business, and Engineering/Technology.

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

I’m looking forward to getting in the swing of things, and finally meeting in person the students I’ve had remotely for several weeks. 

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

I was in marching band for all four years, and went on trips all over the country with the band.  I took a full class load of college prep.  I especially enjoyed English literature and writing.  I made some great, lifelong friends there.

What are some of your hobbies? Activities?

I am into photography and filmmaking,  I draw incessantly and used to produce a ton of comics.  I also love to read and learn about new things.

What is your teaching style?

I’m pretty laid back and easy going, but my expectations are high and I model how I want students to behave.  I like to make my classes project based, with most of the focus being on the student.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I’ve always liked to explain things.  I was a grad teaching assistant in graduate school and later taught college part-time. My jump to public school teaching came after witnessing my oldest son’s elementary school teacher at work.  She had such an influence on her kids; they were so rapt in what she was explaining. 

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

The best environment is one of mutual respect.  I believe the best teaching is based on the individual relationships the teacher has with each student, as well as the group as a whole.

What have you learned from past experiences that have made you the teacher you are today? 

I’ve learned to manage my workload (not to grade everything, for example.); To relinquish control over the moment by moment activity in a classroom, and respond to things as they occur.  You need a solid base of planning, but ultimately the quality of the classroom experience depends on how you react to the students’ interest and motivation.

Angela Moskwa:

 What’s your childhood story?

Both of my parents immigrated from Poland to the United States when they were young and met here. Growing up in a Polish home was an amazing experience! I learned how to celebrate Polish culture and tradition, speak some Polish (still learning), and cook (most importantly eat) some delicious Polish dishes like perogies! I grew up in Suffield, CT, a farm town where everyone knows everyone, and I loved it. I’ve come full circle and just moved back this year.

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

I teach Spanish and Latin at LHS! This is my first year teaching Latin as I have taught Spanish in the past. I also taught English in the Dominican Republic during my year of volunteer service.

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

I am looking forward to getting to know my students and my colleagues! I am also looking forward to becoming a member of this wonderful, tight-knit community.

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

I went on my first trip to Spain in High School and it was absolutely incredible! Experiencing Spanish culture and language first hand confirmed my desire to study Spanish in college and study abroad. Fun fact: I traveled to Spain with Sra. Riordan on this trip! She was a Spanish teacher at my HS at the time.

What are some of your hobbies? Activities? 

I love being active, being outside and playing sports. I played softball in HS and in college. You could say I can get pretty competitive even if it’s playing Mario Kart. My family and friends are very important to me so I love spending time with them.

What is your teaching style?

My teaching style is active. I like to have students do activities where they can move around and associate movement with vocabulary. Students in my classroom engage with each other in speaking activities, listen to songs and watch authentic videos in Spanish, as well as read articles in Spanish. I like to incorporate students’ interests into my lessons to make their learning more meaningful. I look for any opportunity I can to connect with my students whether in Spanish or in English!

What is your background? (Where are you from, etc.)

I am from Suffield, CT and I attended Stonehill College in Easton, MA. I am currently working on my masters at Middlebury College in VT during the summers.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

My passion for language and culture definitely comes from my parents and growing up in a Polish household. In High School, I was fortunate enough to have some amazing foreign language teachers. Karin Riordan truly inspired me to be a Spanish teacher through her passion and kindness. Words can’t express how grateful I am to have the opportunity to teach alongside her and be part of the wonderful World Language Department here at LHS.

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

I think the best learning environment for both teacher and student is one that is open, welcoming and accepting of all people, and joyous. It is one where everyone feels valued, accepted and respected. It is one where achievements are celebrated and difficulties are overcome together. 

What have you learned from past experiences that have made you the teacher you are today? 

I have learned that the most important aspects of teaching are connecting with my students and  being passionate about teaching students about language and culture. I have also learned that being a teacher means always learning more and improving through collaboration with colleagues and students as well as experience. 

Caitlin Follet:
What’s your childhood story?

I grew up in West Haven, CT. I attended Catholic school for grades 1-8, and then received a scholarship to an all-girls high school, Sacred Heart Academy. My father did not graduate from college and was often in the hospital with health issues, so we were a single-income household.  My mother was a nurse, and worked hard to provide for my sister and me.

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

I am teaching Latin at LHS. I am also certified to teach Chemistry.  I have taught Chem, Honors Chem, Forensic Science, all levels of Latin, and I also developed/taught an Ancient History & Mythology course.

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

I am looking forward to working with everyone in the LHS community, from parents and students to administrators and fellow teachers.  It seems as if everyone has such interesting backgrounds and ideas that they are willing to share to create a vibrant learning environment.

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

Academically, I was always at the top of my class. I enjoyed and did well in all subjects. I got a perfect score on the National Latin Exam, and I also received a grant from the National Kidney Foundation to do summer research at Yale. I was also involved in many extracurricular activities, such as Student Council, Key Club, and National Honor Society. I volunteered with children at a battered women’s shelter. I also tap danced.

What are some of your hobbies? Activities?

Currently, I don’t have time for many hobbies and activities, as I have two young children. When I have time, I enjoy cooking and baking, watching trashy TV shows, and finding great shopping deals.

What is your teaching style?

I have high expectations for myself and my students, but I also like to create a classroom environment in which students feel comfortable to participate and ask questions.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

In my senior year of high school, I was interested in majoring in Classics, math, or architecture.  However, I decided to major in Classics. When I went to Princeton, I discovered structural engineering, which married my interests in math and architecture.  I ended up majoring in Structural Engineering and minoring in Latin. I went on to become a structural engineer but did not enjoy it.  I had always tutored on the side, so I decided to switch to teaching and am so glad I did!

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

I think the best learning environment is one in which the expectations are clear to the students. It is helpful when everyone sees the end goal and knows how we are going to get there.

Kelly Lamberto:

What’s your childhood story?

I grew up in central Massachusetts with three siblings. I was involved in athletics and student government at school. I started taking French in middle school and had the opportunity to study and live in France for two years as a young adult.

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

At LHS, I am teaching French, which includes language study and francophone cultures. In the past, I’ve also taught history courses. 

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

I am very excited to be at LHS. I am looking forward to collaborating with other teachers to coordinate cultural and arts events, especially related to language study. 

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

I was very involved in student-run theater, my school soccer team, and the track and field team. I was also part of student government. In grade 7, I traveled to Québec with my school, as well. 

What are some of your hobbies? Activities? 

I enjoy a lot of outdoor activities and the arts. Some of my favorites include cycling, playing soccer, swimming, and hiking. Attending live music and cultural events are my favorite activities that I look forward to doing again when it is safe.

What is your teaching style?

I try to immerse my students in French language throughout class and include creative projects. Modeling a growth mindset and giving students voice regarding their learning are important aspects of my classes.

What is your background? (Where are you from, etc.)

I am from Massachusetts and I have spent time living or studying in Québec and France.

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I love learning and being in the classroom. I also enjoy the many collaborations and academic events, particularly arts and theatre, among students, teachers, and school communities. 

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

In French classes, it is ideal to see many francophone cultures from around the world represented in all of our studies. Integrating creative expression and critical thinking as well as creating opportunities for students to take the lead and learn within the context of their interests represent my ideal learning environment. 

What have you learned from past experiences that have made you the teacher you are today?

Students energize my teaching and I have learned a lot from them over the years.  Additionally, I’ve had opportunities to travel with schools and for my own studies, which has broadened my perspective of cultures around the world. I continue to learn new languages on my own, which helps me improve my skills as a French language teacher. Over the years, I’ve been involved with GSA, drama, language and soccer clubs, as well as other community initiatives. Engaging with the school community, maintaining a growth mindset, reflecting, and having fun while teaching French make me the teacher I am today. 

Brian Warchol:

What’s your childhood story?

Grew up in Chicopee with parents and older brother;  loved playing sports; wanted to become an NBA player;  

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

Academic Support at LHS

Yes, I have taught Middle School History, Math and Science.  I also was a physical education teacher for six years, for students in grades K through 12. 

Recently, I taught Ecology and Biology at Chicopee High. 

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

Meeting the students; developing new relationships;  helping the students improve and reach their goals at LHS and beyond.

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

Student Council

Played basketball and tennis- 4 years each

What are some of your hobbies? Activities? 

Playing sports- golf, basketball, tennis, etc. 

Playing with my own kids; bike rides; Cooking; 

What is your teaching style?

Break down large amounts of information; use visual aides;  higher order thinking questions

What is your background? (Where are you from, etc.)

Grew up in Chicopee; Chicopee Comp- Class of 1994;

Graduated from:

Providence College- Bachelor’s Degree in History.

Springfield College- Master’s Degree in School Counseling

What inspired you to become a teacher?

Both of my parents were teachers;  I started off working in the financial services field in Boston, but then I was looking to change my career after the September 11th attacks.  In 2003, I returned to Western Mass, and started my education career as a substitute teacher at a special education school.

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

A classroom that has access to technology, and allows for research, discussion, teacher-led instruction and group work.

What have you learned from past experiences that have made you the teacher you are today? 

Everyday is a new day.  Staying positive and leading by example.  Be fair and consistent with students.


Elizabeth Heston:

What subject do you teach? Have you taught any other subjects in the past?

I teach Junior and Senior English, specifically British Literature and the Non-Fiction/World Literature class. The Non-Fiction class in particular is perfect for me since in the past I taught English AND History, everything from World History to APUSH!

What are you looking forward to in LHS?

I can already tell that this school embodies the word “community” so I am excited to be a part of that! I am also excited for some of the “normal things” that I may have to wait for (thanks Covid!); I love football so going to the games will be fun and all the Senior traditions sound amazing.

What are some of your experiences when you were in High School?

I was always someone who liked school and learning and I was lucky enough to have some really great teachers in History and English that shaped the subjects I loved. I also tried to be well rounded; I rowed for the Northampton High Crew team, sewed all the costumes for West Side Story, and was NHS president…but I also had “Senioritis” starting my sophomore year so I was a bit of a procrastinator as well!

What are some of your hobbies? Activities? 

I love to travel and have been lucky enough to go to Europe a number of times. Learning about different cultures and ways of life fascinates me and I feel like travel played a critical part of shaping me as a person. I also love to read, go for walks, and root for the Patriots every Sunday.

What is your teaching style?

My teaching style is based on high expectations, enthusiasm and interest. I have high expectations for my students’ work but almost more importantly, I have high expectations for who my students are as people. I want every kid that walks in my room to be a better person when they leave it. This may be through reading a text, learning about a new culture, or just gaining life lessons. I also love exploring what my students are interested in; I enjoy nothing more than having a student stay after school to talk my ear off about everything from Game of Thrones to Johnny Appleseed (both of which have already happened this year).

What is your background? (Where are you from, etc.)

I was born and raised in Northampton which means that I am a snob when it comes to restaurants. My parents still live there and it was a great place to grow up. Most of my family, including my younger sister, live in Holyoke but others including my older half brothers and many cousins live in Virginia and Maryland. I went to the best college in the world, Holy Cross, and majored in English and History, then went to another amazing school (Providence College) for grad school. I taught for six years on Cape Cod then five years in Arlington, right outside of Boston and now I am lucky enough to be here!

What inspired you to become a teacher?

I have wanted to be a teacher since third grade. There was never a doubt in my mind that this career was what I would be doing the rest of my life. I come from a family of teachers; my mom is a retired principal turned librarian, my dad is a retired History teacher, my cousins teach in local schools and many of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles were or are involved in education…so really I never stood a chance to do anything else!

What do you think is the best learning environment for both the teacher and the student?

As Aretha Franklin would say, a classroom environment is about RESPECT. It is obviously important that students respect their teacher and each other, but I go out of my way to respect my students as well. I think an environment that is full of enthusiasm for learning where students feel that their voice is heard and that their teacher cares about them is the best place a student can learn.

What have you learned from past experiences that have made you the teacher you are today?

My past experiences have taught me that you never stop being a student. I have learned so much about the world, history, English, and life in general from the struggles, achievements, and personalities of my past students. Every year is different, this one more obviously so, and that is something I love about this job…you never get bored!

Jacob Wu '23

Assistant Opinions Editor
I am a junior at LHS. I enjoy reading and studying history. I am most interested in the history of the Byzantine Empire under Justinian, Basil II, and the Komnenian dynasty. I consistently read the Lord of the Rings and Sun Tzu’s Art of War. I also take a keen interest within the Soviet Union, it’s economics, history, and it’s ideology. My favorite movies are The Lord of the Rings, Waterloo, Zulu, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

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