Staff Writer: Dylan McKeon
This year SLA is saying goodbye to not only the senior class, but several teachers as well, including Ms. Thompson and Mr. Miles. As a result of their leaving, two new teachers have been brought in to fill in for Math and Computer Science along with history teacher, Mr. Symonds.
Mr. Symonds will be teaching 9th grade African American History and 10th grade World History. A graduate from Swarthmore College, he has been a teacher for three years and is very excited to come to SLA.
“I feel very, very positive about SLA and its different approach to learning,” he said. “I deeply appreciate that SLA zigs when so many schools zag.”
His favorite lesson he taught was a unit on justice and mercy were his students corresponded with a death row inmate in Georgia named Kelly Gissendaner, who became an ordained priest while serving time. “Our work with her helped to illustrate for my students that good people can make mistakes. I was proud that the project prompted my most reluctant learners to write, and that it surfaced many students’ sentiments about their incarcerated family members.”
What will he bring to SLA? “I can guarantee lots of passion, creativity, sometimes-funny jokes, and an enthusiasm for making the life of our school fulfilling, difficult, fun and memorable. I am eager to leave the classroom with students and to explore the world together. On a more practical note, I want to support student events, clubs, and other goings-on.”
Mr. Hernandez will be teaching Math and Computer Science, taking over the program started by Mr. Miles. He previously taught math at Esperanza Academy in North Philly after working as a software engineer for Apple for 12 years.
He is very excited to teach at SLA and teach using the project based method that SLA runs on.
“I was always fascinated learning new math concepts in the classroom,” he said. “But it became fascinating and rewarding when I got to apply those concepts to projects as an engineer. To get to do both while still in the classroom is a great combination that I want to participate in.”
His favorite lesson he taught was an Algebra II lesson on credit cards.
“I feel great pleasure every year when my students not only understand how credit cards/loans work, but also can calculate (using a real credit card bill) just how bad an idea it is to pay only the minimum monthly payment.”
What will he bring to SLA? “I’ll bring a passion for the subjects I teach and a unique worldview based on my experiences as a Latino, an immigrant who has resided in a variety of countries, a father, an engineer, a big fan of independent music, and a cinema enthusiast.”
Ms. Burnstein was scheduled to teach Statistics in Mr. Miles’s place, however despite being initially thrilled she ended up backing out due to the lack of a contract between the school district and the PFT making it too risky.
The new staff will be rounded out by a new Statistics teacher, who SLAMedia will interview in the future.