Welcome to Barrack – excerpts from interviews with JBHA’s newest faculty!

by Margot Englander



This year, the Barrack community welcomes nine teachers to our faculty! The Chronicle extends our welcome and appreciation to the new teachers, so we asked a few of the new teachers some questions. Here are excerpts from five who responded. Welcome to Barrack!


What is your name, and what is your new role?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

My name is Larry McAfoos (pronounced MACK-a-foos). Over the years, students have called me Mr. McAfoos, Mr. Mac, Mr. Foos, and more. I will be teaching Honors Chemistry, AP Chemistry, and grade-level physics.


Ms. Danae Derby

My name is Danae Derby, and I am a member of the math department.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

My name is Dan Hatfield (Science Department).


Mr. Adam Lovitz

Adam Lovitz, the new art teacher.


Ms. Erin Beser

Erin Beser, 6th grade JST teacher


Ms. Georgia Gobora

Georgia Gobora, Learning Specialist


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

Upper School Jewish Life Coordinator, Hebrew and Jewish Studies Teacher


Where are you from?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, attended Cornell University, and for the last 30 years, have taught Chemistry at Lower Merion High School. For the last 8, I have also taught at The Mesivta and at KTA in the late afternoons.


Ms. Danae Derby

I most recently lived in the suburbs of NY City where I taught at an international day/boarding school called The Master's School.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

I’m coming from teaching for six years at Chadwick School in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from this area (Conestoga HS alumni).


Mr. Adam Lovitz

I grew up in Havertown(Delco kid), then moved to South Philly after college. Recently, our family moved just outside the city to Wallingford. Prior to joining Barrack, I taught at Temple University, University of the Arts, and Rowan University.


Ms. Erin Beser

Baltimore, MD, but more recently New York City


Ms. Georgia Gobora

I was born in London and grew up in Bucks County, PA.


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

I’m from Israel! Born and raised in a small village near the Sea of Galilee, named Mitzpe Netofa.


What is your favorite part of your new role/what are you looking forward to?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I’m really excited to be working at only one school (instead of LM, KTA, and Mesivta). I’m thrilled to be working at a school whose calendar matches mine, and I am really excited to teach Physics (which is new for me).


Ms. Danae Derby

I am looking forward to becoming a member of the community at Barrack and to working with my colleagues and students.


Mr. Adam Lovitz

I think it’s pretty amazing to guide students through a range of approaches and philosophies to the creative process, especially in the age range I have taught and will teach in. It’s always so inspiring to watch a student find connection to making art, and building relationships with ideas and life experiences.


Ms. Erin Beser

I look forward to having a lot of fun and learning together!


Ms. Georgia Gobora

I am looking forward to getting to know my students and watching them grow throughout the year!


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

I look forward to meeting the students and finding new ways to connect them to themselves and to Israel.


What is something non-academic within the school year that you are looking forward to?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I’m looking forward to running a nature-focused Shacharit. I spent 13 years as the Teva guy at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and I have missed sharing my love of the natural world with kids since I left.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

I’m looking forward to attending some JBHA athletic events, so look out for me cheering in the bleachers.


Ms. Danae Derby

One non-academic thing that I am most looking forward to is teaching a baking/cooking elective in the Middle School. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen and can't wait to share my passion with the students.


Mr. Adam Lovitz

Excited at the potential for the Phillies to make the playoffs this year! Also excited for seasonal change…weather for camping and hiking, wearing hoodies, Fall gardening, and I’m taking a ceramics class this Fall.


Ms. Erin Beser

Holidays!


Ms. Georgia Gobora

Hopefully getting to chaperon some of the awesome field trips this year!


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

I’m excited to make fun things with the JLIers for Shabbat and the holidays.


What is your favorite topic to teach within your field?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I love teaching things that we all think we understand but haven't really thought about. I love teaching gas laws (you don't suck the liquid up a straw, you don't pull air into your lungs, you can't suck in your cheeks, etc,) and inter-molecular forces (oil and water do mix, water is stronger than gravity, geckos stick to ceilings, etc) and quantum theory (how light is produced, how we know light is a wave, how we know light is not a wave, etc)


Ms. Danae Derby

It is difficult for me to choose a favorite math class because I truly enjoy teaching most of them. Geometry is fun for me because proofs are like a puzzle. You need to use logic and think ahead as you plan your proof. For the same reason, I enjoy teaching trigonometric identities. You need to manipulate the equations to have a certain outcome using your knowledge of the identities. Very much like a puzzle.


Ms Erin Beser

History and holidays and the history of holidays!


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

Mitzvot Ben Adaem Le’Chavero - that is the commandments of interpersonal communication.


Do you have any pets? If so, what are their names and a fun fact about them?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I have two little dogs (both about 16 pounds). The older one is Pippin (named for the Hobbit). He's becoming something of a crochety old man, but he still likes to chase squirrels in the backyard. The younger one is Loki (for the Norse god of mischief). He loves everyone and deserves his name.


Ms. Danae Derby

I have a cat named Tommy and a dog named Mae. Tommy is 13 years old, and Mae is 1.5 years old. Mae loves Tommy more than he loves her and is always trying to get him to play with her. Tommy tolerates her and usually swats at her when she zooms by him. They both have black fur with white crests on their chests.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

I have a small fluffy white dog (we think he’s a cockapoo) named Moe, whose picture will probably pop up from time to time in class.


Mr. Adam Lovitz

Two cats. Boomer is an orange tabby, roughly 13 years old. He is our first baby. Boo loves hunting/stealing human food...favorites include avocado, tuna fish, bagel w/ cream cheese, and ice cream. Beatrice is our little princess cat who does no wrong and is the sweetest thing there ever was.


Ms. Erin Beser

No, I don’t like having pets, but I do have two children, their names are Aldo & Sage and they’re kind of wild and run around a lot, so maybe I do have pets.


Ms. Georgia Gobora

I have two dogs named Chloe and Lulu. Chloe is a fluffy white maltese and Lulu is a miniature-schnauzer yorkie mix.


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

In Israel we had a dog named Mooki, but he was so Zionist he insisted of staying there with a friend.


How are you spending your summer break?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

I'm learning to teach Physics. As I said above, I've never taught Physics. I know physics, and I know how to teach, but putting them together is new for me. I'm having a lot of fun putting together labs and activities and trying them out.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

Most of my summer was spent moving from LA to here, but I did get a chance to go up to the Poconos for a weekend.


Mr. Adam Lovitz

Painting in my studio for an upcoming show, gardening, spending a lot of time with family and friends, and visiting a couple National Parks. Just got back from a road trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.


Ms. Erin Beser

Moving to Philly and getting our house set up.


Ms. Georgia Gobora

Over the summer I was a counselor at Briarwood Day camp for girls going into 1st grade.


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

Finding the best water parks in the area to go with my children.


What are your tv show or movie favorites?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

TV: I love MASH, The West Wing, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Brooklyn 99 and Game of Thrones (at least the first few seasons), but I think that Breaking Bad is (possibly) the best television ever made. Movies: This one is tough. I am a HUGE movie guy. It would be impossible to list all of the films I love, but The Sting, Young Frankenstein, The

Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Singing in the Rain, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Crossing Delancey are some of the ones at the top.


Mr. Dan Hatfield

Some of my favorite TV shows are Breaking Bad and The Office.


Ms. Erin Beser

Clueless, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, Troop Beverly Hills, The 90’s were the best.


Mr. Benaya Yehuda

Actually, I don’t see tv and prefer reading books.. But I love The Matrix and also documentaries.


In which Hogwarts house would you be sorted and why?


Mr. Larry McAfoos

Ravenclaw. The hat wouldn't even reach my ears before it shouted out Ravenclaw (like Malfoy being put into Slytherin.) Why? That's easy. I am a huge nerd (heck I majored in Chemistry and then chose to go BACK to high school). I read non-fiction for pleasure. I bird-watch. I discuss the director's choices for movies. I'm having fun this summer playing

with physics labs. I enjoy learning about quantum theory. When I see a beautiful sunset, I think about the dispersion of light due to the Tyndall effect. Need I go on?

Mr. Dan Hatfield

I think I’d be a Ravenclaw, but I’m not certain about that.

Mr. Adam Lovitz

My wife, a Harry Potter aficionado, gave me a "sorting hat" test through the Harry Potter Wizarding world website, and I was sorted into Slytherin! I’m not sure why, maybe a bit mysterious? But I would never use my powers for evil!

Ms. Erin Beser

I’m a certified Potter-world Gryffindor.

Mr. Benaya Yehuda

I’ll probably be in the forest with Hagrid.


(Barrack Instagram)


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