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First Year Recap Interviews

Ariel Shavit and Brandon Rosen

Arts, Features, and Games Editor and Assistant to Editors

The following answers are directly from some teachers and staff members that were new to Barrack this year.

  • Emilie Grossman (Student Life)

  • Larry McAfoos (Science)

  • Adam Lovitz (Art)

  • Matthew Flory (Core)

  • Benaya (Jewish Life)

  • Marti Kwon (College Counselor)

  • Dan Hatfield (Science)

  • Georgia Gobora (Learning Support Teacher)

What was your favorite first year memory?

Mr. Lovitz: There was a moment in one of my first classes at the beginning of the school year where I had asked 6th graders to collaboratively build a structure without talking to one another. They were allowed to use physical gestures, draw, or even grunt. Just no verbal language was to be spoken or written. At the end of class, there was one representative that was assigned to articulate the meaning of their form, in words. The insight that this 6th grader shared and how it was reflected in the abstract sculpture almost brought me to tears. Each student had contributed in their own way but worked together toward a shared vision. I was blown away at the depth of this sixth grade class and the magnitude of feeling they had gestured toward in this simple and experimental creative exercise.

Ms. Grossman: I had an amazing time at each Shabbaton. I really enjoyed getting to know the kids one-on-one better and spending quality time with them. Getting to see all of the kids participate in traditions and songs and just all of us having fun together was extremely special. I think the moment that stands out to me the most was the etiquette class the 6th graders took part in during their shabbaton. It was one of the funniest experiences I’ve had this year for so many reasons and I don’t think any of us will ever forget it.

Mr. Hatfield: My favorite first year memory was the first day of school and getting to meet my students to see how amazing they are.

Georgia Gobora: My favorite memory was meeting my colleagues and students and seeing my students develop over the year.

Benaya: Visiting Marc, a school alum, in his army base on the northern border of Israel, with the 8th graders.

Marti Kwon: The Upper School Shabbaton. Seeing Barrack students out and about away from school hanging out with their friends, connecting over their faith and simply having fun stands out for me this year.

Would you like to see any part of the school environment improved for the next coming year?

Mr. Lovitz: I think it's very important to find an accessible location to act as an exhibition space to show off all the fantastic artworks made throughout the year. The glass case near the auditorium is a bit limiting in size and in what type of artwork can be on display, so I hope to secure a location that allows for more art and is visible for the whole school to experience.

Emilie Grossman: I would like to see more of the Derech Eretz values intertwined between students’ actions during the day. Random acts of kindness, like holding the door open for the person behind you and taking care of our building, will really help our Barrack community become stronger.

Benaya: I would be very happy to see students dance more at the Shabbat Shmooze 🙂.

What is different about Barrack than other schools you have taught at previously?

Mr. Mcafoos: I think that the best part about being at Barrack for me is the feeling that everyone knows everyone and the sense of caring and concern for each other. At my last school (a large public school with over 1200 students), there were administrators and staff that I had only met a few times and teachers I didn't know. At graduation, it seemed that I didn't even recognize more than half of the students receiving diplomas. In addition, with 5 Chemistry teachers on the faculty, administration put a high priority on making sure that students had "identical" experiences in their classes. That meant that creativity and personal engagement was a disadvantage. Here, I feel that I am encouraged to be the best teacher I can be and to bring to my classes all of the energy and creativity I can.

Benaya: I think the most important difference is the willingness of Barrack to think out of the box, explore new creative possibilities, embrace initiatives, and constantly change and improve. For an institute that is 77 years old, this is not something common, and to me it is inspiring and fun.

If you were to choose a movie to watch with your class, what would it be and why?

Mr Mcafoos: Definitely a classic film because kids tend not to watch those movies on a regular basis and they need to!

Benaya: I actually saw Operation Thunderbolt with my JS7 class this year, and although it’s 46 years old, they were mesmerized by this miraculously true story.

What are you looking forward to next year?

Mr. Flory: I am looking forward to next year for the opportunity to improve and be more organized to get more efficient.

Benaya: I'm excited to come to school again and see how I can do things differently, try to make a better impact on the school's community, and meet the students when they are more mature and grown up, and hopefully, I am also! I believe I can teach the same material and have the same projects done but with the wisdom of someone who has done it before. I look forward to coming to school and seeing many familiar and friendly faces that were once complete strangers.

I am so grateful for this opportunity of learning and teaching at Barrack, and I am sure this will be another incredible year filled with endless possibilities of getting inspired by students and staff and being able to contribute from my own experience that I now will have.


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