Jacob Marshall and Marcus Payne
Every year there are changes to the faculty at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. Though Michael Melfi, Erin Sullivan, and Tong Fu Mei are all new to J-DHS and they have different teaching techniques, all three of them want to prepare their students for college and the real world.
Out of all of these new teachers, Mr. Melfi has the most experience. Mr. Melfi attended Marist from 1994-1999 where he got his undergraduate degree. Then he started teaching at Lincoln Middle School in 1999 while also getting his master's at Syracuse University. He taught at Lincoln for five years, and then started teaching at J-D Middle School in the fall of 2004. This year, after more than 12 years at the middle school, Mr. Melfi moved to the High School.
Having worked in both places, Mr. Melfi jokes that the only difference is up here everyone is “much taller” than the middle school. Mr. Melfi’s’ favorite part about the high school is that he gets to see kids that he has worked with in the past and how they have grown and matured. “It's been good to see them develop and grow both academically and physically,” said Mr. Melfi. He also said, the students and teachers gave him a warm welcome on his first few days. After he learned how the students schedules worked and how to get around the school, he said his transition into the the high school went pretty smoothly.
Not only is this Mr. Melfi’s first year at JD High School, it is also his first year coaching track and cross country at SUNY ESF. Mr. Melfi wants to have his athletes do well in the classroom and set personal records on the cross country course.”
Ms. Sullivan joined the math department this year. She has taught at three different schools over the course of 7 years. After graduating from Le Moyne in 2010, she worked at Baldwinsville for a year. Then from 2012 to 2014 she taught at Port Byron, and then she taught at Solvay from 2014 to the spring of this year. She teaches Algebra 1, Algebra Applied, and Pre-Calculus Honors. Her pre-calculus class has gone very smoothly, even though she has never taught pre-calculus before. She said she really put in the extra effort to make sure she knew that her topic was correct. The Algebra Applied class is also her first time co-teaching. Because there are so many students in this class, both her and Mr. Clinton teach.
“Kids are so nice and they seem to be really involved in the school,” said Ms. Sullivan about what she likes about J-DHS. She also joked that she didn’t like how hot the first few weeks were. Ms. Sullivan says that the hardest part of becoming a new teacher at this school was remembering names. However, most teachers say that remembering names is extremely hard at the beginning of the year.
Ms. Sullivan’s goal in the classroom is to find new ways to do a task that other people think is boring and bring life to it. She really wants to make the 82 minute periods interesting; she wants to make students interested in what she’s teaching so the students can have a better takeaway from her teaching so they can be successful in life.
Making a real life impact on her students is also important to her during her time teaching here. Ms. Sullivan not only wants her students to succeed in her class but also wants them to learn real life lessons. She hopes they come back in 20 years and say that they learned a lot from her.
The newest teacher in the language department, Tong Fu Mei, replaced Hsiao Lao Shi. Tong Fu Mei or Tong Lao Shi, as her students call her, graduated college in Taiwan at National Taiwan Normal University in 1991. Before teaching at our school she taught for more than 15 years in Taiwan. Then when she moved to New York she subbed in other parts of Syracuse. Since Fu Mei came from Taiwan she noticed big differences between the students here and the students in Taiwan. “In Taiwan the teachers teach and the students receive. But the students here not only receive what what is taught but they also give feedback.”
The teachers were very helpful and allowed Fu Mei’s assimilation into our school to happen easily. But she still had to get used to the students. “I was nervous in my first classes, meeting the new kids. But all of the students are very polite, responsive and respectful.” Fu Mei hopes to get her students interested in the Chinese culture and make them want to learn about chinese. Her goal over her time at the school is to make more students be excited and want to take Chinese.
All three of these new teachers have prior teaching experience, whether it be in a country halfway around the world or subbing in a local school. Mr. Melfi, Ms. Childers, Tong Fu Mei, Ms. Brodbeck and Ms. Sullivan each bring something special to the table in helping their students learn. They want to use their enthusiasm, and skills to help all of their students succeed and do what they want after high school.