• Becca Miller

Thoughts from Retiring Staff

Becca Miller

Centerspread Editor



This is the final semester for several Barrack staff members who have decided to retire after many years of helping to shape young minds. The five staff members who are retiring are Mrs. Ivy Kaplan, Mrs. Rita Schuman, Mrs. Joyce Ferber, Mr. Barnett Kamen, and Mrs. Karen Albero. Each of these people have been at Barrack for so long they have practically become institutions at the school. They have interacted with hundreds of students and touched many lives during their time here, and they will all be sorely missed.

Each staff member kindly took the time to reflect on their careers. Below are their responses to identical questions from the Cougar Chronicle.


Mrs. Ivy Kaplan (History Department):

  • What made you want to be a teacher?

I loved playing teacher as a child. Then I taught Hebrew school in high school for extra money and loved it. After earning my degrees in History, it seemed a natural fit to combine my love of history and my love of working with children.

  • What have you enjoyed most about teaching?

Watching the moment when the light bulb goes on after a student understands a new idea or concept. I also enjoy leading discussions when the students apply the information they have learned with their critical thinking skills.

  • What is the most important thing you have learned in your career as a teacher?

To be patient and flexible. To be open to new ideas and new ways of presenting material.

  • What will you miss most about teaching?

I'll miss two things: working with students and talking "history" to my three wonderful fellow teachers.

  • Is there anything you would like to tell your students?

I'll miss all the students, but I know that they will be in very good hands with Mrs. Taichman, Dr. Ziskind and Mrs. Scheinmann.


Mrs. Joyce Ferber (Resource):

  • What made you want to be a teacher?

I became a teacher originally because of my own struggles with reading and comprehension. An English teacher in high school told my parents I was not college material. I wanted to learn the different ways children learn, and learn the methods to help them.

  • What have you enjoyed most about teaching?

Mostly I enjoy getting to know students, how they learn, and meeting them where they are in their learning. Nothing is more gratifying than to experience students improve reading, writing and organization skills, and take flight with their learning. However, I do love all the fun parts of being in our learning community; going on Chesed and class trips, taking part in the planning of events and sales as a Grade Advisor, enjoying the shows, and kvelling at Moving Up Day and Graduation.

  • What is the most important thing you have learned in your career as a teacher?

When I was in grad school, a professor said to us, “If you are nothing else, be humane.” That stuck with me throughout my career and has helped me use methods I learned to enable students to progress with their learning. Meeting students where they are is an important learning and teaching tool for me in order to help students improve their skills and recognize their own love for learning.

  • What will you miss most about teaching?

I will miss the experiences I have loved when students recognize their potential and enjoy successful learning experiences. I will miss the teaching and learning community I have had the privilege to be a part of at Barrack. The faculty here are some of the most brilliant minds, as well as the most dedicated people to their profession. I have learned so much from them.

  • Is there anything you would like to tell your students?

Be true to yourselves; who you are is good enough; do not give up on your ambitions and dreams; be kind, be thoughtful, and help someone else as often as you can.


Mrs. Rita Schuman (English Department):

  • What made you want to be a teacher?

There really wasn't one epiphany moment. I always loved literature and working with children, so I guess it was always there.

  • What have you enjoyed most about teaching?

Clearly, getting to know the students and feeling that I could help improve their appreciation and knowledge of learning has been most enjoyable.

  • What is the most important thing you have learned in your career as a teacher?

I suppose being open to being a learner myself would be up there in importance -- not just as a teacher, but a life skill.

  • What will you miss most about teaching?

I will miss the students, sharing new discoveries about reading or writing, and working with like-minded colleagues.


Mr. Barnett Kamen (Jewish Studies Department):

  • What made you want to be a teacher?

I wanted to contribute and I knew I couldn’t do politics because I struggle with lying and that seems to be a prerequisite. I enjoyed being with kids -- tutoring, coaching, and refereeing. I liked making connections, so it was just a matter of finding the right subject.

  • What have you enjoyed most about teaching?

Getting to meet the highest quality of students. I don’t know if I could have managed in a public school. I’m lucky to have worked here.

  • What is the most important thing you have learned in your career as a teacher?

No matter how good you are, you can always be better. Also, teaching requires an incredible amount of patience.

  • What will you miss most about teaching?

Being in the classroom. I really enjoy that and when I’m in the classroom I feel like my true self. My family complains that I never talk, but once I’m in the classroom I can’t shut up. I’ll also miss the students and the camaraderie with the faculty.

  • Is there anything you would like to tell your students?

Have fun and find love. If you do those two things you will be successful in life.



Mrs. Karen Albero (Administrative Assistant to the Head of School and Muss Coordinator):

  • What have you enjoyed most about working at Barrack?

I love working in a school environment. I love to hear the sound of our students passing in the hall outside my office...I believe children keep you young at heart. It has been a pleasure to work here!

  • What is the most important thing you have learned over the course of your career?

Here at Barrack, I have learned a sense of community within these walls...the students, faculty and staff are a family that supports one another in good times and bad. The love and support is always present here and that truly makes Barrack a special place.

  • What will you miss most about working at Barrack?

That's an easy question to answer...everyone and everything! I am very much looking forward to retirement and spending more time with my family and friends, but I will never forget the friendships I have made along the way!

Ms. Rivka Markovitz (Hebrew Department)- interview scheduled for Friday


Two other teachers aren’t retiring, but will be moving on from Barrack. Mrs.Adrienne Amsterhas taught Spanish class at Barrack for three years. Her absence will be a loss for the Barrack community. Ms. Sally Belasco only just started teaching science here this year, but she will also be missed as she starts teaching at AIM. The student body wishes both of them the best of luck in the next stages of their career.

On behalf of the entire student body, thank you to all these staff members for working so hard for so long to keep the school functioning and to help each student learn. Barrack truly won’t be the same without you. To the retirees: Enjoy your retirement -- you’ve definitely earned it.


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