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2017-2018 Archives by Rakiba S '22 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Mrs. Klidonas

Where did you grow up?

I was born in New York and lived here for 10 years. I moved back to Greece with my family and stayed in Greece until I was 22 years old. I then moved back to New York for my Master’s degree.

Why did you move back to Greece?

My family decided they wanted to move back to Greece, as that is where my parents are from. They sold a house that we owned here and decided that with money, they could start a new life in Greece.

What was it like living in Greece?

It was very hard at first. I didn’t speak the language very well and I needed a lot of extra help with grammar, literature, and even math—math was taught in a very different way in Greece. My parents hired a private tutor for me to guide me through my work. Even though it was hard to communicate with people, due to not speaking the language, some things I enjoyed were the weather and a more laidback school life. However, I still would always miss New York and would want to go back.

Did you experience anything new in Greece that you wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t moved?

First of all, I wouldn’t have met very important people in my life. If I had not moved to Greece, I would not have met my husband. I would not have had a lot of people in my life, meaning friends, and the opportunity to get to know a lot of my relatives. I also am very appreciative of the fact that I had schooling abroad. If I had studied in New York, I think I would not have had the opportunity to do a lot of after school activities and become fluent in Greek.

Where did you previously work?

I have been in the field of education for ten years and the first class I taught was a Greek afternoon class. I previously worked at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers.

Which college did you attend? What was your major?

I attended the University of Athens, where I majored in American/British Literature. I completed my Master’s degree in English Adolescent Education at Hunter College.

What kind of a student were you in high school?

As a student, I cared about my grades and was the kind to always seek extra credit. I had always liked reading, writing, and debating, and even as a student, I was extremely interested in English.

Were you always interested in teaching literature?

I’ve always wanted to teach, however, the real turning point for me was in college, where I sat for many classes reading literature intensely. There was one class where we read Jane Austen intensely for a whole semester, and during that time, I ended up imagining myself teaching literature in the future. This is when I realized I wanted a future in teaching.

Speaking of literature, what books, if any, have you read recently that have stood out to you?

I’m a member of a book club at Astoria Bookshop called the Feminist Book Club. We recently covered a graphic novel called Fun Home that I really enjoyed. It was a story about a young girl who came out to her parents. It speaks about her father who was also homosexual, featuring his struggles with his identity and trying to hide that. Even though I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels, this particular book changed my view.

What do you like most about BSGE? What do you like about your students?

I really enjoy the multiple perspectives in the classroom. The experiences and culture of students really shine in the classroom. I guess what I like most about BSGE would have to be the students. The students like English class and take it seriously. This reveals a lot about their character and future.

What kind of standards do you hold your students to?

I have very high standards for my students. Ultimately, it depends on what we do in class. Participation will always go a long way though. I also like to have a rubric or a grading guide that is fair for both the student and the complexity of the assignment.

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

I would like to be a writer or open up a bookshop in my neighborhood. In the case of the bookshop, customers wouldn’t have to pay; they could just read in the bookshop. If I weren’t a teacher, I would just like a job in the field of literature.

What are your hobbies?

I love travelling whenever I have the opportunity. I like doing activities with my children. I also love listening to music, especially Bob Dylan. I obviously love reading also, and I’m pretty sad that I don’t have enough time to read books just for myself.

Where have you traveled before?

I love to travel a lot. Unfortunately, my traveling experiences are limited to two continents. I’ve visited the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and many others. I also like to travel within the US every opportunity I get, whether it’s a day trip somewhere in the Northeast or a long weekend trip across the country. Whatever good deal my husband can find with our airfare and the miles we collect is one we’ll take. We’ll always make sure to bring our children along as well.

What kind of activities do you do with your children?

I love taking them to “storytime”. We either go to the local library here in Astoria or Astoria Bookshop. During the summer, I would bring them every Thursday morning and they would have half an hour of storytime. I love taking them to the park. They can play with their friends and I can easily watch over them. I also take them to art classes whenever I can, but my older son also takes swimming classes while my younger son takes music classes. We like just doing things that are in season and that I know that they’ll enjoy.

What/who drew you to BSGE?

I live in Astoria so I know the area well. Because of that, I had heard about the school and its rigorous curriculum. However, it was ultimately the IB program that drew me to this school because it isn’t offered in many other places in NYC.

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2017-2018 Archives by Mrittika H '20 Faculty Features

BSGE’S New Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry Teacher: Mr. Gehlaut

Mr. Gehlaut, BSGE’s new edition to the math department, never intentionally set out to be a teacher. Born and raised in a small village in North India, he left his hometown for America.  After migrating to the U.S., Mr. Gehlaut used to work in Manhattan with a small newspaper called News India Times. He occasionally saw an advertisement for “New York City Teaching Fellowship” in the subway and decided to apply out of pure curiosity. After several interviews, he suggested that he teach Global History and Economics, as he had traveled to many countries. Since he had his undergraduate degree majoring in Math and Economics, the interviewer asked him to teach math. Thankfully, Gehlaut said yes.

When asked what he likes about BSGE, he said, “I like BSGE as a whole institution. Starting from the supportive school leadership and teaching staff to the most important student body, everyone has really impressed me by their motivation and aspirations… I love all my students and their learning styles.”

In his scarce free time, he loves reading newspapers—current affairs and world news—and watching Discovery and National Geographic programs. He also enjoys playing chess to relax. If he were not a math teacher, he would have been working for a newspaper as a journalist, as the topic had essentially led him to America. Mr. Gehlaut became the first person to get an undergraduate degree at the age of 20 in India. He was also named the first Hindi Journalist to win the prestigious British Chevening Scholarship to go to London and study at the University of Westminster and work with the BBC World Service. He is an inspiring addition to the BSGE staff and we wish him the best of luck for his first year at BSGE.

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2016-2017 Archives by Rachel R Z '20 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Ed March

Where did you grow up?

I was raised in Brooklyn, New York.

What was your previous job?

My last job was working as loss prevention for Prada in a mall.

What kind of student were you in high school?

I was kind of this odd under-achiever; I could’ve done better, but besides that, I did pretty well.

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2016-2017 Archives by Mrittika H '20 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Ms. Beane

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri.

What type of person were you in high school?

I was, and this is actually true to this day, I still have friends who say, ‘you didn’t belong in any one group’ and so I had friends in lots of different groups. I was a dancer, I used to dance in the high school musicals. I was the editorial page editor for my school newspaper. I was a swimmer, I was the captain of the swim team when I was a senior.

Was there anything that influenced you to work with students with special needs while growing up?

That’s an interesting question. My interest in teaching was really cultivated by my high school history teacher. She helped me really turn around because I wasn’t really doing well in my tenth grade year. I had her for my junior and senior years and I just became a much better student because of her, and so that’s where that began. As to working with special needs, my brother has done that for a very long time… at first, it was very difficult and I wasn’t sure I made the right choice, but now I’ve adjusted and I really really love it. Like I don’t know, if somebody said to me ‘would you like to work in general education English,’ I think I’d miss my kids that need extra help. I’ve gotten too attached.

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2016-2017 Archives by Fariha H '19 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Ms. Tramantozzi

Where did you grow up?

Yonkers, NY.

Have you always been interested in art?

I think even when I was very young, I always really liked drawing and I always liked making things (like projects or anything that I could make); but I think I began to think seriously about it in high school when I started getting positive feedback. I started to get recognized for doing art from my friends, some teachers, and my dad. I didn’t think that it could be something I could pursue in my life until someone said that I could. I didn’t even know that it was a major in school because I didn’t have it in high school. It definitely came from people’s encouragement (like from my friends and family).

What made you enjoy art making so much?

I don’t think I ever had to think about that, but I think that when I discovered that it could be a language that I could use to communicate that was different than words, art became more interesting for me. So, I might have been shy when I was younger, and having this other language to express myself was something that was very interesting to me. Then when I learned about other artists and saw the ways that they would express themselves that were different from me, that caused me to become more and more interested.

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2016-2017 by Meral A '18 Faculty Features

Teacher of the Month: Mr. Yanek

yanek
What is your cultural background?

I am a New Yorker, through and through.

Where did you grow up?

Franklin Square, New York.

If you could live in any other place in the world, where would it be and why?

New York is my first choice, but if I couldn’t live in New York I think I’d be pretty happy in Mexico City. It’s like New York, but it has public toilets. It seems like enough of a big city for me and it has a good vibe.

What type of kid were you in high school?

I got good grades, but deep down I was a fool.

If you were a student and had yourself as your teacher, would you meet the standards you hold for your students?

With a vengeance.

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2016-2017 by Lisbeth A '20 by Reshmi A '21 Faculty Features

BSGE’s New Assistant Principal

Among the many recent changes introduced to BSGE is the arrival of a new assistant principal, Ms. Maria Mamo-Vacacela. She has been appointed as an Interim Acting Assistant Principal, meaning that before Ms. Mamo-Vacacela gets permanently hired she has to undergo a trial process. Ms. Johnson explained, “She is with us now, you can think of it as a probation period to see if it is going to be a good fit. Then, she gets interviewed for the position. Afterwards, teachers, students, and parents get a chance to say, “‘yes’ or ‘no’.” According to Ms. Johnson, Ms. Mamo-Vacacela is being tried for the position because “the responsibilities placed on principals have increased, and we may eventually need more help, especially if our population will grow.”

When asked about her education, Ms. Mamo-Vacacela said laughingly, “I’m a Queens girl.” After having graduated from Christ the King High School in Middle Village, she pursued and received B.A. degree in Mathematics at Queens College. Ms. Mamo-Vacacela also holds a master’s degree in multicultural education from the College of Mount St. Vincent. She perceives this specialization especially fitting here, at BSGE, because of our school’s diversity.