2023-2024: New Year, New Faces, New Staff

2023-2024: New Year, New Faces, New Staff

As another school year unfolds, let us take the time to learn more about some of the new faces walking the Edison High hallways. 

Meghan Reeves - Fashion Teacher
Meghan Reeves

Though she is gracing the “New Staff” list, Ms. Meghan Reeves actually taught at EHS in 2013 and has come back this year to teach Family and Consumer Science. Reeves was inspired by her innate love of teaching and one of her high school theater teachers. While she got her teaching certificate after graduation, she continued to do freelance fashion and theatrical costuming outside of school. When she is not teaching, she can be found advising our school’s FCCLA. Outside of school, she has been sewing since she was eight years old, following in the footsteps of her family members.

“I think my own personal mantra is to never stop learning. The fashion and costume world is HUGE, with so many new techniques to learn and mediums to work with. I think if I could tell my students anything, it’s that I have been where they are and I know it’s hard,” said Reeves.

Meghan Reeves – Fashion Teacher (Courtesy of Meghan Reeves)
Evan Craig - English Teacher
Evan Craig

Growing up idolizing Matilda’s Miss Honey and listening to her grandfather’s stories about his students, Ms. Evan Craig has wanted to be a teacher as long as she can remember. She specifically chose to teach English not only because of her love of literature—though she can often be found curling up with her favorite dystopian book, The Book Eaters—but because of her close bond with all her English teachers from kindergarten to senior year. This year is her eleventh year teaching and her fifth district.

“My mantra as a teacher is ‘Take it easy,’’ said Craig. “Education is a really challenging field so I do my best to remind myself not to let it overwhelm me. My goal as a teacher is to create a safe and welcoming environment for my students so that they look forward to coming to school,”

 

Evan Craig – English Teacher (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
Derek Dillman  - Assistant Director of Bands
Derek Dillman

For Mr. Derek Dillman, music—ranging from steel pan ensemble, jazz band, marching band, and indoor drumline—has been key to his identity since the fourth grade.

“Throughout my entire youth and adolescence, I was a victim of some pretty intense bullying. Band was the one place I always went where that never happened, nor was I ever afraid of it happening there,” said Dillman. “Band quite literally saved my life. I owe everything I am now to band and music and that is why I wanted to be a band teacher—to hopefully provide to others what band provided to me: a place of belonging and growth with a teacher who cared about everything I am and everything I could be.”

Dillman has been a full-time band director for four years and has been teaching band for about nine. Even after almost a decade, his favorite part of teaching is “the moment where everything comes together and the students are able to truly create music and their reactions afterward is something that I look forward to every semester.”

In his own time, Dillman is also the lead trumpet player in a Grammy-nominated jazz band. Overall, he wants his students to know that it is useless to compare oneself to other band members and encourages each one to find their own unique sound.

Derek Dillman – Assistant Director of Bands (Courtesy of Derek Dillman)
Neha Vachhani - Special Education English Teacher
Neha Vachhani

Though now a Special Education English Teacher, Ms. Neha Vachhani ‘12 loathed reading at one point. Nevertheless, growing up at EHS, she had some English teachers, like current Vice Principal Ms. Nicole Kesselman and Ms. Karen Hart, who helped build her interest and confidence in literature, eventually inspiring her to pursue education.

This year is her seventh year teaching but her first year back at her alma mater, and she can’t wait to use it as an opportunity to foster a fun and risk-taking learning environment.

“My goal as a teacher is to make sure my students feel heard and valued. Their voices and perspectives are important, and I want them to feel comfortable speaking their minds,” said Vachhani.

Outside of the classroom, you can find Vacchhani cozying up with her favorite fantasy novels, throwing clay at a pottery wheel, and recently, playing pickleball.

Neha Vachhani – Special Education English Teacher (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
Steven Sharp - United States History I and United States History II teacher
Steven Sharp

Starting off his first year in education, Mr. Steven Sharp is one of the new United States History I and United States History II teachers. He was inspired to pursue history due to several positive experiences with history teachers in middle and high school.

“They taught me that history was much more than just memorizing dates, and that application of skills and concepts learned in social studies classes was extremely useful for other parts of my life as well,” said Sharp. Consequently, he hopes to share his passion for social studies and historical thinking skills with his students.

Additionally, students might be surprised to know that Sharp is a triplet, and if he were to have dinner with any historical figure, it would be Henry Clay (“The Great Compromiser”).

Steven Sharp – United States History I and United States History II teacher (Courtesy of Steven Sharp)
Kathleen Ellis - Family and Consumer Science Teacher
Kathleen Ellis

Ms. Kathleen Ellis took up her language, French, out of boredom; however, as she learned more French, she became more and more interested in the different French-speaking cultures across the globe, such as societies in Africa and the Caribbean. Currently, her French favorites include the French book Traversée de la Mangrove, the TV show Dix Pour Cent, and the rapper Stromae.

“Developing my French skills allowed me to have incredible experiences and meet amazing people that I certainly would not have if I stuck to English alone,” said Ellis. “That’s something that I always want my students to consider: Although not everyone needs to be multilingual in the United States, becoming proficient in other languages and cultures can open doors that you never thought of.”

Before teaching at high school, she taught at Rutgers University. Regardless of her institution, her main values as an educator are intellectual curiosity and care.

“When we strive to discover more and more about the world, and when we put in the disciplined, enlightened work to make the world a better place, I truly believe that that can bring great peace and happiness both to individuals and to communities,” said Ellis.

Kathleen Ellis – Family and Consumer Science Teacher
Sabrina Carbone - Math Teacher
Sabrina Carbone

Though featured on this list, many readers might already be familiar with Ms. Sabrina Carbone. Last year she first served as the student teacher for Ms. Danielle Andriano ‘01 and followed with a long-term substitute position for Andriano’s maternity leave last spring.

“If it weren’t for this previous experience and guidance from Ms. Andriano, I definitely would’ve been more anxious at the beginning of the year. Ms. Andriano was a great guide as well as a companion for me in these times,” said Carbone. “Apart from Ms. Andriano, Mrs. Lell, Mr. Ross, and various other mathematics teachers have really made my journey as comfortable as possible. Their support has definitely helped lead me to success. Also, being comfortable with the Geometry curriculum prior to beginning the year was also very helpful for me.”

Overall, her love for math and people led her to education. Therefore, her goal as a teacher is not only to lead her students to academic success but also to foster connections with them.

“I get satisfaction out of the students feeling comfortable to talk to me about their interests, life events, and even things bothering them emotionally.” said Carbone. “I not only want to be their teacher but also a role model and mentor for them. Given the fact I am only twenty-four years old, I still very much remember how it felt to be a high-school student. I want them to know that I understand them and their current phase of life.”

Sabrina Carbone – Math Teacher (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
Adam Romano - eSports teacher
Adam Romano

Mr. Adam Romano, EHS’s new Academic ESports and coding teacher, cites his foray into education as a series of happy accidents. He initially went to college to receive his undergraduate in music business. While on the job hunt, he temporarily became a substitute teacher and realized that he preferred being in the classroom a lot more than any of his music business internships.

After an education degree and countless interviews, he ended up with a computer science job in primary school.

“I have always had a tech background; I have always loved messing around with computers, coding, robotics, and web design. So, that was a happy accident… and that was thirteen years ago,” said Romano, adding on with a quote he recalls: “Computer science is the language of teaching a human how to tell a computer to do a job.”

As an ESports aficionado, his favorite game remains 2019’s Control by Remedy Entertainment, which he recommends for fans of single-player and sci-fi games.

After more than a decade of teaching, his favorite part remains witnessing the so-called “lightbulb moments” among students.

“Every single time you’ll find a number of students in each of your classes that didn’t know they could have a future building robots, a future building websites, a future playing or being around people playing video games. So, that moment when you see a student light up, because they realize ‘I can make a career out of these things that I love’ —that is my favorite part of being an educator,” said Romano.

Romano maintains that even teachers can never stop learning, and recommends that educators begin to take pride in their mistakes and start learning WITH their students.

Adam Romano – eSports teacher (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
Lizette Chaglla - ESL teacher
Lizette Chaglla

Ms. Lizette Chaglla ‘08, a new ESL teacher at Edison High, is far from a stranger to the Edison School District. She grew up attending James Monroe Elementary, Herbert Hoover Middle School, and Edison High School. Similar to her students, she was an ESL student back in elementary school. Additionally, she has been shadowing Mr. Gregory Sampson’s history classes.
Before coming to Edison High, she had taught math in a Newark middle school for ten years.

“I think I just wanted to come back to Edison. Somebody had told me there was a need for ESL teachers in Edison. I didn’t believe it until I saw all these job openings, and then, I was like ‘Why not’? So, I came!” said Chaglla.

As a teacher, she maintains the mantra that everybody can learn, as long as they put in the effort. She especially wants her students to know that, regardless of their perception of teachers being perfect students, she has failed in many aspects. Yet, she never gave up.

“My mantra is always you can fail a 100 times, 200 times, but you have to just get back up,” she said.

Lastly, if granted any superpower, she said, “I would love to make more of me because I also teach at night at Middlesex County College and Kean. Sometimes I wish I could just make one individual version of me that would go there, there, and there. That way each could get the best version of me. I want to be able to do even better and better and better.”

Lizette Chaglla – ESL teacher (Courtesy of Lizette Chaglla)
Daniel Hedden - Security Guard
Daniel Hedden

Mr. Daniel Hedden, a known face in his typical yellow-green security uniform, is no stranger to the world of security. Before working at Edison High, he was a police officer for 26 years and later joined the school security at Red Bank Regional High School in 2013.

Since high school, he wanted to be a cop to help people and keep them safe. Throughout his career, he spent eight years in uniform and patrol, then became a detective, a supervisor, and for his last seven to eight years, he was the police chief.

“It was like running a business. You have to know all the rules and regulations set by your local prosecutor and attorney general. You have to make sure the officers underneath you are getting the proper training and equipment,” said Hedden.

He specifically highlighted his first aid calls, and most notably, the four awards he received for saving lives while on the police force.

Even before retiring, he knew he wanted to enter the school system and do security, and even toyed with the idea of teaching.

“It is about building relationships. In the other school, I would run in-school suspension, and I would have conversations with kids. I would treat them like my own kids, and pique their interest in something when they get out of high school,” said Hedden.

“I enjoy working at Edison High School. I moved really close to here—a minute away,” said Hedden. “I enjoy the sport aspect of it. Overall, the trying to help kids get through it—I enjoy that.”

 

Daniel Hedden – Security Guard (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
Lynette Haynes - Security Guard
Linette Haynes

Though having joined Edison High security only in October, Ms. Linette Haynes is no stranger to the world of security. Prior to joining the school, she had worked in security, primarily in corporate settings, for the past fifteen years. She has enjoyed the job, as it got her to meet new people, and truly be a “people’s person.” Yet, this is her first time working at a school.

At Edison High, she is excited to “meet different types of people, learn about the challenges they have at school, and learn more about working with teenagers.” Just over the past few weeks, she has been enamored by the variety of different activities and classes offered by Edison High School.

“Stay focused,” Haynes said, “because education is very important, and this is just preparation for life in the big world. I am here when you need to be the voice of reason, or just to be a friend to you if you need someone to talk about pretty much anything.”

Lastly, for anyone looking for a fun cop movie, she recommends the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, highlighting Eddie Murphy’s star performance.

 

 

Lynette Haynes – Security Guard (ISHANI BAKSHI ’26)
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