There is a medieval sentiment that goes “All roads lead to Rome,” but for the seven new teachers in the 2016-2017 school year, it seems that all the roads led to Jamesville-DeWitt High School. This year, J-DHS welcomed Jacob Brodsky, Xiomara Santos, and Daniel Law from other schools in the JD school district. There are three new science teachers: Elise Jutzeler, Catherine Dovillers, and Samantha Ross. Finally, there is also first-time social studies teacher Vitaliy Yanchuk. Many J-DHS students who attended Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School will see a familiar face in the Social Studies department. Mr. Law taught Social Studies at the middle school after a stint at the high school.
Many J-DHS students who attended Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School will see a familiar face in the Social Studies department. Mr. Law taught Social Studies at the middle school after a stint at the high school. This year, he has returned to J-DHS and is teaching Economics, Psychology, and United States History. He is very excited about returning to the high school, and seeing familiar faces. "It is a cool thing to draw upon things that I did with my classes...to make middle school to high school connections," said Mr. Law
The majority of students are unsure of what they want to pursue in college, let alone as careers, and the same is true for teachers. Originally, Mr. Brodsky attended SUNY Binghamton with the intention to become a veterinarian until he took a basic drawing and painting class and realized that was what he preferred. He then graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting and a minor in anthropology. Although his degree took 10 years to earn as he spent the time working in museums and art galleries in Philadelphia, Penn. and California. However, he always entertained the idea of being an art teacher after being taught by J-DHS’s Carl Wenzel when he was a student in high school, and the freedom to teach the course whatever way he wanted was appealing. Mr. Brodsky has taught at both Jamesville Elementary and Moses-Dewitt but he took the job here at Jamesville-Dewitt High School because of the more advanced level of instruction he could provide. “He’s an awesome teacher, and it’s pretty cool that he’s new to high school level teaching. I hope that he pushes me throughout the year,” said one of his students, Whitewolf Afraid of Bear, who also had him at Moses-Dewitt. Outside of school, Mr. Brodsky enjoys playing basketball and riding bikes with his three kids.
Señorita Santos has been interested in language since seventh grade and grew up speaking Spanish with her Puerto Rican family. Since the age of 14, she had wanted to be a teacher because she enjoyed working with children. Before becoming a teacher, Santos volunteered at youth centers in Syracuse City, but at the time she was more interested in teaching health education. She graduated from Le Moyne College with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in sociology and went back to get her master’s in education. Santos began teaching at Corcoran High School in Syracuse City but decided to accept a position at Jamesville-Dewitt Middle School when one opened up. She isn’t exactly a new face at the high schoo, though; she commuted from the middle school during the 2015-2016 school year to teach one class of Spanish 2 Regents. Señorita believes her subject is important because “Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages and gives you the ability to communicate with so many more people.”
“You know how some little girls like to play house? I was always playing teacher,” said Ms. Jutzeler. Since the age of 11, she was “teaching” her dolls in her backyard. Jutzeler is not new to teaching nor is she new to Jamesville-Dewitt High School. She attended J-DHS as a student and took every science elective the school offered, participated in chorus and band, and was coached by the high school’s former Biology teacher and veteran cross country coach Jim Lawton. Her parents, who are both musicians, took her to various museums throughout her childhood, and Jutzeler was actually the odd one out with her interest in science. When it came time for college, the only matter she was undecided on was which discipline she would specialize in. Ultimately, she would get her bachelor’s degree in physics from SUNY Geneseo and her master’s in literacy. In her free time, Ms. Jutzeler sings in the Syracuse Chorus Society, loves to read and workout, and she is in the process of training for a blackbelt in karate. Ms. Jutzeler is helping fill the role left by Ms. Lawrence, who is on maternity leave.
Ms. Ross originally wanted to be a veterinarian and worked for the Autobon Bird Conservation after receiving her bachelor’s from SUNY ESF. She eventually realized she would rather work in a classroom and get to know students, so she went back to school to get her masters in science education. After graduating from Syracuse University, Ross taught at a number of places, including Roxboro Road Middle School, Nottingham High School, and even Oswego High School, but she didn’t like the commute which meant she had to wake up at 4 a.m. though stay at school until 4 p.m.. So far, she likes everyone she has met as J-DHS’s new biology teacher. Ms. Ross’s goal is to form good relationships with her students, ones in which they know she genuinely cares about them and their learning.
Ms. Dovillers graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Pennsylvania State University. She then spent 7 years in pharmaceutical field development in research at Bristol-Myers Squibb working in their biotechnology/drug development department. After the recession, she decided to start teaching and got her masters in education from Le Moyne. She now teaches Regents Chemistry as well as the electives Forensic and Materials Chemistry here at Jamesville-DeWitt High School. In comparison to the larger schools she has taught at, she has said that she enjoys the different perspective the smaller school provides and has noted the wonderful selection and variation in electives and extracurriculars help prepare students for whatever they wish to do in life. Dovillers has a goal to travel to all 50 states before she dies and she’s already over halfway there at 30, her favorite being Alaska. However, she admitted that since being stuck in the Labor Day Storm on a flight back from Walt Disney World in 1998, she has developed a fear of flying.
Mr. Yanchuk is an upstate New York local, having graduated from Cortland High School as well as SUNY Cortland with a bachelor of arts in adolescent education and a concentration in social studies and political science for grades 7 through 12. He then went on to get his master’s at Cornell University in Public Education Administration. Teaching Global History to freshmen and sophomores at J-DHS is his first teaching job. He thinks the staff is fantastic and the social studies department is top of the line, and he is enjoying the culture of excellence. He’s a bilingual immigrant from Ukraine and enjoys keeping up with the news in his free time and likes to play ping pong and tennis.
Teenagers go through plenty of emotional turmoil and all of the new teachers at J-DHS want students to know they can come to them for advice. Señorita Santos said, “you should always aim to be the best version of yourself.” Mrs. Jutzeler wants it to be known that one “should not be afraid of getting things wrong sometimes because everyone is going to run into a ‘wall’ whether its this year or your junior year in college, but having made prior mistakes helps you to overcome future ones.” Mrs. Dovillers advice for entering the workforce is “to be ready and willing to adapt to changes in the workforce because you will meet a lot of different personalities that we can learn a lot from.”
It’s interesting to think a Spanish teacher might have greeted their student with a bell ringer about nutrition for health class instead of “¿Cómo estás?”, their biology teacher could have been the vet to save their dog’s life, or their chemistry teacher could have helped developed a drug to save theirs. No matter what road these new teachers took, Jamesville-Dewitt High School is so happy they all ended here.