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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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Student newspaper of Strath Haven High School

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More new faces, new experiences

More new teachers have joined our school community since the start of the new year.
New+teachers+Mr.+Brent+Thomas+and+Ms.+Hannah+Holt+smile+in+their+classrooms.
Evelynn Lin ’25
New teachers Mr. Brent Thomas and Ms. Hannah Holt smile in their classrooms.

Ms. Hannah Holt, Science

New environmental science and chemistry teacher describes the changes from being a student teacher to a full-time high school teacher at such a young age. 

At just 22, Ms. Hannah Holt joined the Strath Haven community on Jan. 3, 2003 as a long-term substitute for Ms. Kari Reese 

She comes from student teaching at Frary Charter High School in Center City, Philadelphia, and last summer, taught a fast-paced five-week chemistry course for students. This transition in her life pushed her into adapting to new changes in her teaching role. 

“I got to be a co-teacher, and I got to run all of my ideas by someone else,” Holt said. “And in the beginning, I was mostly observing, and then slowly, I would take on more and more responsibilities until I was teaching full-time.” 

Still, Holt had a mentor teacher as guidance. Teaching here at Haven, she has had to accommodate for her students’ learning herself and take more accountability for her decisions as a teacher.

Not just that, but Holt also joined Haven in the midst of upcoming finals. 

“It was pretty hard, I’m not going to lie. I think the students were worried because each of the different classes was actually in a completely different unit,” she said. “So I basically had to plan for three different classes. And that was a lot coming right in.”

In spite of the difficulties, Holt has found ways to manage the pressure and go to work each day with a fresh mind. 

“One thing that is helpful is I do have a rather long commute,” she said. “The commute time itself is about an hour and 20 minutes. And it involves a walk and on the train, and then the subway, but it does give me some time to just chill for a bit and to not think about school. And so I have used that time to read or listen to podcasts or something. And that helps me unwind a little bit before I have to start working.”

This new pressure of the teaching world for Holt also pushed her to find ways to better balance her work and personal life and appreciate her weekend time outside of teaching. 

It has brought about new challenges she hadn’t experienced in her student teaching before, such as having more significant responsibility over chemistry labs in the classroom and adjusting to block scheduling. 

“In previous teaching, I had like 45 minutes to an hour to teach a lesson,” Holt said. “And so I got used to having things go very quickly and trying to get students to move on very quickly.” 

Here at Haven, though, classes take on a slower pace, with 1-hour 20-minute classes. Holt has had to learn how to better pace herself in assisting her students. 

“Now I’m finding that I have to plan for more things,” she said. “So I’m still working on the balance between making sure that all the time in class is used well, but not making it so busy that students are overwhelmed.”

In any new setting, management can be challenging. 

But thankfully for Ms. Holt, she has chemistry teachers Mr. Chris Heiskell and Mrs. Danielle Ciamaichelo to help her adapt to such an enormous transition in her life. Her students also aided in Holt’s positive impression of the Haven community as well. 

“A lot of them have been very helpful if there’s ever, like, procedural things that I’m confused about,” Holt said. “Students will sometimes be like, ‘Oh, here’s how you do this thing.’ And for the most part, they’re helpful.” 

Another difficult yet interesting challenge Holt had to reconcile with was being not much older than the high schoolers she teaches. Not only is it unusual for new teachers to start so young, but there is also a lot to consider in regard to teaching experience on such a level. 

“I think a lot of the teachers here that are a bit older have done other careers before going into teaching,” Holt said. “And so I’ve wondered whether I want to try some other things before being in a more permanent teaching job.”  

Unlike most other teachers, Holt chose to take on a full teaching job before others to improve her teaching abilities.

“I think, for now, I’m happy to get some experience,” Holt said. “And I think being younger, there are definitely positives and negatives to that.” 

As the second semester progresses further, she continues to work hard to help her students learn to their fullest abilities and is looking forward to the remaining part of the school year. 

“I’m excited for things to go uphill. I think as I get more comfortable with the activities that we do, and with the students that I have, and what they enjoy the most, I think that it’ll be better overall,” Holt said. “I think it really can only go up from the beginning.”


Mr. Brent Thomas, Business, Engineering & Technology

New wood tech teacher discusses his transition from Upper Darby and the challenges of being new in the school community.  

There are students working away at large, rectangular tables, learning to use wood-cutting materials to help design their ongoing projects. The smell of fine, rusty wood and nothing but the sounds of drills and saws fill the high-ceiling classroom. 

This is the setting Mr. Brent Thomas has always known as a wood tech teacher. Having taught for many years, Thomas recently joined the Haven community from Upper Darby High School on Jan. 4, 2023.

Unlike many other new teachers at Haven who have had to adjust to block scheduling, Thomas was already used to it from Upper Darby. He decided to join Haven for more personal reasons in his experience with wood tech. 

“I felt that I wanted to grow professionally, in some ways. So, this seemed like a really good way to bring that possibility about in my career,” he said. 

Thomas noted several differences between the schools that made the transition to Strath Haven a good fit for him,  such as the sizes of classes.

“The classes were a little bit bigger [at Upper Darby],” Thomas said. “And as a result, we weren’t able to use the caliber of machinery we can here at Strath Haven High School. So we weren’t able to use things with the beginners like a table saw or a miter saw… It was a little bit more dangerous.” 

Arriving a few weeks before the start of the second semester to replace outgoing teacher Ms. Jessica Protesto, Thomas found it enjoyable and valuable to see the close of the first semester. 

“I got to see the end of the semester, and I got to see where students’ projects kind of ended up, how they evolve,” he said. “And now I see where they begin. I see a beginning and an end, which is helpful.” 

Thomas also noted how despite being new, he received much support from wood tech and CADD teacher Mr. Page Brown on his arrival. 

“I’m fortunate enough to have Mr. Brown who has taught me a lot about just being part of the school and the school culture,” Thomas said. “He’s always willing to answer questions about different machines that I haven’t worked with before. And different kinds of processes that are important to understand as a teacher here: filling out forms, housekeeping stuff, basically everything.” 

Thomas looks forward to teaching students to enjoy the process of making objects and getting settled into the Haven community. He also looks forward to teaching full-time next year, where he will be able to partake in the introduction of potential new classes. 

“One thing that we’re supposed to start is a new engineering program and new engineering classes, and there’s equipment that I’ve heard rumors about new equipment coming in,” Thomas said. “And all of that is exciting… but none of that is going to happen until next year.”

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About the Contributor
Evelynn Lin '25
Evelynn Lin '25, Editor-in-Chief
Evelynn is a junior at Strath Haven High School, and this is her second year writing for the publication. When she is not busy on the ground taking pictures of fun events or grinding away at articles, she can be found listening to music, taking long walks, studying for school, dancing, making bubble tea, and hanging out with friends.
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