Who’s new at East?
October 29, 2019
Cherry Hill East has introduced a whole new set of faces to the faculty department. Nine new teachers have joined Cherry Hill East for the 2019-2020 school year. Each teacher brings their own unique skills and talents to the table. All nine of these teachers could not be more excited for their futures at East. To learn more about these teachers and what brought them to Cherry Hill East, read below.
Mr. Tyler Brake begins his career at Cherry Hill East
Many new teachers and staff were added to the long list of educators at Cherry Hill East. Within this group of recently hired teachers is Mr. Tyler Brake, a new member of the English department.
Brake, a Cherry Hill native and Cherry Hill West alumnus, is very familiar with the demographics and dynamics of this town and school environment. Before teaching, he worked at various Cherry Hill swim clubs, PJ Whelihan’s Pub + Restaurant.
After graduating from West, he attended Clemson University for two years, and he attended Rutgers University for the next two en route to a master’s degree.
Brake decided to become an English teacher when he was a senior in high school, where he was inspired by his wrestling coach and his father, who was also a teacher.
“It’s funny, you know, they actually tried to steer me away from this job, but I decided to stick with it and I absolutely love it,” Brake said.
In the classroom, Brake makes every effort to make his teaching style engaging for the average Cherry Hill teenager.
“I try to tie in real-world connections and lessons to the books or prompts we read for this class; that is such an important life skill, so I am trying to help them draw these connections early,” Brake said. He wants his lesson plans to impact his students well outside of his classroom.
In addition to teaching, Brake also enjoys jiu jitsu, fly fishing, watching TV (most preferably sports), going backpacking, wrestling and hanging out with family and friends.
The top goal on his bucket list is to visit all of the American national parks.Thus, it should come as no surprise that he loves all outdoors activities.
“If I were not a teacher, I would probably have a job that deals with nature, probably a park ranger, or maybe even an environmental engineer,” said Brake. Outside of East, Brake coaches cross country and leads the students of Cherry Hill West on runs.
However, Brake seems happy about the career choice he did make, and he is loving East so far. He describes all of his students as amazing and he absolutely loves the idea of his potentially having a lasting impression on some of his students. He also has high praise for the teachers with whom he works.
“My colleagues are absolutely incredible. They are all so educated and give me the best advice,” Brake said. “They have been super welcoming, which has taken a lot of stress off of me.”
Brake is super excited for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year, and he cannot wait to see what his teaching career at Cherry Hill East holds.
Mr. Kairi Young feels enthusiastic about his new job at Cherry Hill East
A new math teacher, Mr. Kairi Young, joins the Cherry Hill East community for the current 2019-2020 school year. Young says he has chosen to come to East due to the impressive values the students and staff possess, heavily focused on extracurriculars, school spirit, and academics.
Young teaches Enriched Algebra and Geometry classes and has developed a passion for teaching math.
“Math itself is interesting because…it has a lot to do with application and broadening student’s perspectives and minds,” Young said.
Before coming to East, Young spent eight years in Camden, New Jersey, as a math teacher at Medical Arts High School. Following this job, Young was the assistant principal at Olney Charter High School, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Young’s first few weeks at East have been filled with immense support. Everyone he’s met has exemplified kind and welcoming behavior. Even so, he describes his experiences so far as “eye-opening”.
He acknowledges the adjustment period necessary in order to become fully comfortable in this new setting, considering how the schools he worked in prior to East had a very different environment. However, these changes only appear to be positive. East offers wider access to technology, making it easier for Young to communicate with his students.
Young recognizes that there is still a lot he needs to learn about East. One challenge he faces is determining where each of his individual freshman and sophomore students lie in terms of previous knowledge. He credits this struggle to the wide array of information his students have already been taught, creating more variation between skill level.
The main message Young wants the students of Cherry Hill East to know is that he’s always there to help.
“I am here to support in every aspect, in terms of not only academic growth…but as well as…preparing them and growing them in terms of their character,” said Young.
Young additionally stresses the importance of professionalism, and readiness for post-secondary life, but also makes sure he is a positive presence in the classroom.
“[Young’s] a good guy…who jokes around and teaches us well,” said Bar Leshed (’23), one of Young’s students.
This positive attitude Leshed describes translates in Young’s opinions regarding East. He beams about its wonderful community, and says he wouldn’t change anything about his year thus far.
Young could not be more excited to begin the next chapter of his life. He already loves East, and cannot wait to see what this year has in store for him.
Mrs. Stacey Butler brings her psychology skills to Cherry Hill East
Stacey Butler, the new psychologist on the Child Study Team, familiarizes herself with the large school grounds of Cherry Hill East, as she begins to set goals for the 2019-2020 school year.
Butler specializes in the field of psychology. This school year marks the 20th year of her teaching career.
Butler chose to go to school for psychology because of her immense love of working with children and her need to help people in her community.
Butler graduated in 1993 from the University of Albany to receive her undergraduate. Five years later, in 1998, she continued her schooling at the College of Saint Rose, located in Albany, New York. She attended this school to earn her graduate degree.
Butler worked at other schools prior to coming to Cherry Hill East. Before working at East, Butler worked at Beck Middle School for 8 years. At Beck, Butler focused more on the hands-on involvement with her students. However, she is more involved with graduation requirements and IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) at East.
Her job, Butler describes, is individualized to meet the needs and expectations of each of her students. Butler adds that her time at Cherry Hill East has been different from her previous experiences as a psychologist. However, she embraces the change and says that working at the new school brings her pleasure and excitement
Butler sets multiple goals she wishes to accomplish by the end of the school year. She wishes to familiarize herself with the complexity of the school and take the time to know her students one-on-one. In the same way, she aspires to be an advocate for them and a voice to convey their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
Butler said, “I want to be able to support them, but I also want them to be independent.”
Butler explains that she relies strongly on accountability and responsibility. She also reminds herself and her students to create and reflect an image of their best selves every day.
Outside of East, Butler enjoys the outdoors and embraces the nature that surrounds her. Butler’s favorite outdoor adventures include, going to the beach and hiking. She also enjoys reading books. When Butler isn’t reading or enjoying the world around her, she likes clearing her mind by doing yoga or going on a run. Butler allows herself to reflect and refresh because she believes “every moment is a chance to make a better choice.”
Butler cannot wait for the rest of the school year at Cherry Hill East. She already loves it, and is ready for a stupendous year.
Ms. Stefania Shjarback opens the next chapter of her teaching career at East
Ms. Stefania Shjarback, East’s newest English teacher, says she is finally settling into the East environment and is looking forward to the 2019-2020 school year.
Ms. Shjarback has taught in two different timezones in has eight years of teaching. Prior to working at East, she has taught on the Jersey Shore as well as in Texas. The first five years of her career were spent down the shore teaching high school until she decided to pack up and teach in El Paso, Texas. Now, she is excited to be living her next adventure teaching at East.
Ms. Shjarback decided she wanted to be a high school English teacher in her senior year of high school. Her English teacher had made such an impact on her that it made her want to teach English, too.
“She was super passionate and really fun. She felt less like a teacher and more like a scholar and she made us feel that way,” said Shjarback of her English teacher. After a senior year spent learning from and connecting with her teacher, Ms. Shjarback knew that going into teaching was the right choice for her.
English has always drawn her attention for many reasons, but one of her favorite aspects of the subject is how subjective it is. She realizes that while her students might not like it because they may find that it is not black and white, she loves that it’s not. Ms. Shjarback points out that a piece of text can be interpreted in so many different ways and you can always dive deeper. Also, she loves how it is a way to connect with her students.
“English lends itself to getting to know students a little bit more than other subjects,” she said.
Not only was teaching English the right choice for her, but 12th grade is also the grade she feels that it is the best fit for her. Ms. Shjarback enjoys teaching high school because she loves how the student-teacher relationship is so open and the teacher can have a conversation with their students freely. Teaching younger students would not be the right fit she explains.
“If I had to also teach students how to tie their shoes, I feel like that would be extra hard,” she said.
Her only goals right now are to make sure her students are ready for their futures. As a teacher, all she wants is for her students to feel like they’re ready for the next stage. She teaches both juniors and seniors and wants all of her students to feel ready for whatever may come next, whether that be their senior year of high school, or starting college.
So far at East, Ms. Shjarback has gone to the Senior Sunrise but plans to become even more involved as time goes on. She plans on getting involved in the National English Society and perhaps joining student government and theatre next year or maybe late this year. She has always been a theater kid and would love to see what productions East has to offer. She cannot wait to see what is in store for her and the students at East.
Mr. Rob DiMedio begins teaching at both Cherry Hill high schools
Mr. Rob DiMedio is the newest addition to the history department at Cherry Hill East this school year, but only until 10:30 a.m. After that, he drives across town to Cherry Hill West, where he is also a new addition.
Although it is his first year teaching in Cherry Hill, DiMedio, who will teach world civilizations and US history, has over a decade of experience. DiMedio taught at Holy Cross High School for two years, Philadelphia public schools for ten years, and Camden High School for one year.
DiMedio has worked at a variety of high schools and has taught all grade levels. He enjoys teaching different history classes to all of those grades. DiMedio chose to take the job opportunity in Cherry Hill because he wanted a challenge. He thought it would be exciting to work at two different schools in one day.
“I love variety and was so excited to accept the challenge. In the beginning, I felt like an East and West freshman, but now I have settled down,” said DiMedio.
DiMedio faced some struggles in the beginning, but he now understands the lay of the land at both schools, and feels has the best of both worlds.
DiMedio knew he wanted to become a teacher, since he was a student himself. He has always had a strong passion for history and really enjoys working with kids.
“I am a life-long learner myself and I enjoy watching students so excited to learn,” DiMedio said.
DiMedio is familiar with the Cherry Hill area, as he went to Johnson Elementary School, Beck Middle School and Bishop Eustace High School. He loves how diverse learning is in Cherry Hill and he appreciates how the students are so eager to learn.
DiMedio says Cherry Hill East is different from the other schools DiMedio has worked at because the students have the true ability to advocate for themselves and they do an excellent job asking questions.
So far, DiMedio has had a great experience teaching at Cherry Hill East. He enjoys the environment around him and the way the school is run.
In his free time, DiMedio enjoys spending time with his two daughters, Allie and Stelle. Allie is seven years old and Stella is four years old. When DiMedio is not at school, he loves to spend time with his family. One of their favorite activities is hiking.
DiMedio is thrilled to be part of the Cherry Hill district and looks forward to the 2019-2020 school year.
Mrs. Sheehan joins East faculty as new nurse
Mrs. Sheehan, Cherry Hill East’s newest school nurse, feels thrilled to be able to help students along their health journeys and enjoys her surroundings at East. Ann Maria Sheehan, originally from Pittsburgh, received her bachelor’s degree from Wheeling University and her nursing degree from The College of New Jersey. Sheehan has worked as a nurse for the past 25 years, and, in addition to school nursing, she has had many other jobs in the medical field. She was originally a labor and delivery nurse, worked for pharmaceutical companies, gathered research, and currently still works as a Maternal Child Health professor at Jefferson University. She also has three kids, two of whom are adults and one who is a sophomore in college.
Sheehan’s first spark of inspiration to explore a career in school nursing came from her mother-in-law, who simply told her, “it’s a good job for you!”. Before starting her career at East, she worked at Gloucester High School and Burlington Township High School.
“I enjoy being around high schoolers,” Sheehan explains. She decided to take the job at East because of its open high school position. Sheehan believes that if she was not a school nurse, she would be a professor in college, which she still does part-time. Sheehan claims the most rewarding part about being a nurse is “seeing people get better.” She feels very grateful to have earned this job position and to further her career as a school nurse at East. She loves East’s environment, her co-workers, other staff members, and all the students she interacts with every day. Mrs. Sheehan wants to help everyone feel healthier, so if you are ever feeling under the weather, feel free to stop at the nurse’s office-preferably, not during the lunch breaks.
Ms. Maria Han settles into role as new guidance counselor
At the beginning of the year, East welcomed a new guidance counselor into A-Wing. Hei One (Maria) Han is replacing Dr. Eileen Lynch, who retired last year.
Han has been interested in being a guidance counselor since she was in high school, when she had four different guidance counselors due to a scandal that involved students’ grades being changed by the counselors.
“When I went to high school… I didn’t have the same counselor for all four years because I was part of a time where my high school [Fort Lee High School in North Jersey] had this scandal where the guidance counselors changed grades for seniors to get into Ivy League schools,” said Han. “My go-to person was my AP Psychology teacher and she helped me figure out what I wanted to study. And I loved psychology, it was my favorite subject that I did in high school. And she knows…. I like to help and advise people. So she thought that I might be a good fit for either a guidance counselor or a school psychologist… So, since then I’ve always wanted to be a guidance counselor.”
After high school, Han went to Rutgers New Brunswick for both undergraduate and graduate school. For her undergraduate degree, she double majored in Psychology and Sociology and minored in Criminology. In graduate school, she received a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology with a NJ certification for school counseling.
“I like studying about people,” said Han. “I am a sucker for character development or growth in people. In any TV show if there’s no character development, I’m not watching it… I think as a counselor you can see that in your students and I love it. To be able to have the opportunity to help a student… just to see them grow, that’s what I like.”
Thus far, Han feels welcomed by the East community and is looking forward to meeting with all her students.
“I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart I have no complaints… everyone’s been so friendly,” said Han. “Everyone, especially the guidance department, every single counselor and staff member that I’ve come across, teachers, principals, assistant principals, they’ve all been so welcoming. And I honestly felt comfortable from day one. I have no complaints.”
Han looks forward to the growth opportunities that working at East will offer her.
“I’m really excited to see how much I will learn within this year,” said Han. “Every day [so far] I’ve learned something new… [and] getting to know various teachers and just getting to know students.”
Overall, Han is excited for the 2019-2020 school year and looks forward to her future interactions with both students and staff members of Cherry Hill East.
“It’s like my dream job, honestly,” said Han.
Mr. Tomaszewski transitions to life as an East teacher
Mr John Tomaszewski may be new to Cherry Hill East, but not to being a teacher. Tomaszewski is a new math teacher at East for the 2019-2020 school year, and has been teaching for thirteen years prior to coming to East. Not only is he teaching math here, but he has also taught high school math in South Philadelphia and in Wilmington.
Tomaszweski’s family moved to New Jersey a couple of years ago, so he wanted to teach at a school close to home. “I wanted to be at a new school close to home [and teach] at a high performance school like East.” Tomaszewski said.
In addition to his proximity to the school and love for the academic reputation at East, adjusting to the East atmosphere hasn’t been very difficult for Tomaszewski so far.
“I love it here” Tomaszewski said. He admits that getting along well with the students and staff here at East has been very comfortable and he already enjoys being a part of the East community. He acknowledges that here, “students are great and faculty is welcoming”.
This community of great faculty and students, as Tomaszewski describes it, is a reason why he loves the school. Not only does Tomaszewski enjoy being around his students and staff, they love being around him.
Students are already getting familiar with Tomaszewski and enjoying his class. “I like that he makes the class enjoyable by smiling every day because it shows me that he truly cares about his students.” said Obinna Okorie (‘20).
Okories reference to the energy Tomaszewski brings to his class is what many students and staff are enjoying now and looking forward to.
Once he gets more comfortable, Tomaszewski plans on being involved in clubs and activities here. “I’ve had some experience coaching track and field. Cross country is something I’ve done in the past so maybe I can get back into that.” said Tomaszewski.
For the students who would like to become closer to Tomaszewski, talking about some of his interests such as baseball, football, and college basketball, especially Vilanova basketball, would be a good idea.
So, through his love for academia, students, staff, and clubs, Tomaszewski is hoping for a bright future at East, one which can be achieved.
Mr. Connor McVeigh joins the East community as a coach and a special education teacher
Mr. Connor McVeigh is a brand new edition to the Cherry Hill East faculty. He is not only an addition to the teaching staff, but he is also a huge asset in the sports department, being the Girls Varsity Soccer coach and the Boy’s Basketball analytical coach.
McVeigh teaches English 2R, Algebra 1R and is a special education teacher. He decided he wanted to because a teacher because of his love for sports. He thought it would be exciting and interesting to become a coach, especially for a highschool team.
As McVeigh grew up and gained his love for sports, he knew coaching would be the perfect fit. Through coaching, McVeigh became interested in teaching. Coaching gave McVeigh his passion for teaching kids. There is nothing he loves more than watching his players succeed. He thought it would be just as rewarding to become a special education teacher, and see his students succeed as well.
McVeigh was faced with a lot of work from the start. He had many challenging tasks which included juggling both coaching techniques, learning all of the analytics, prepping for each school day and grading assignments. McVeigh was tasked with no easy job, but he learned the balance that was needed to get through the days.
Not only was McVeigh thrown into the sports programs at East, but when the Girls Varsity Soccer Team needed a coach he willingly stepped up and filled the position. McVeigh has been successful and has been an incredible coach. He lead the Girls Varsity Soccer Team to playoffs.
One of McVeigh’s athletes, Carly Drumm (‘22), said, ”McVeigh puts a lot of effort into making game plans and researching what we can do to win. Additionally, he does his best to try and make the program better. He does this by bringing all the levels together and interacting with all the players.”
As McVeigh learned to become a teacher, he had the advantage of teaching at his own high school. McVeigh already knew what to expect since he was a student at East growing up.
“It made the transition easier knowing the environment and community that I was getting myself into,” said McVeigh.
Before officially joining the East staff, McVeigh had the opportunity to meet the new administration. As McVeigh was being eased into things, he began to become more and more comfortable with his daily routine.
It was a major adjustment to begin walking the hallways as a teacher and not a student. However, McVeigh turned to what he loves most, sports, as his source of comfort. Ironically, he did the same in highschool. Sports have always been a major part of McVeigh’s life, which is why he is so grateful to be a coach at Cherry Hill East.
“Coaching gave me a way to get to know the students, and it made my transition easier,” said Mr. McVeigh.
McVeigh uses his sports knowledge to make him a better teacher. McVeigh incorporate sports into his daily lessons, which allows him to learn more about his students’ lives. McVeigh has made an effort to learn what sports and activities each of his students participate in. This has been very beneficial to McVeigh as a new teacher. It allows him to relate to his students and make personal connections to them.
Sports have helped Mr. McVeigh in so many more ways than he could have ever imagined. McVeigh’s knowledge on soccer, wrestling and volleyball is helping him to improve the sports program for this year and years to come.
McVeigh is excited to see what this school year holds, regarding his teaching position and the sports programs here at Cherry Hill East.