Feature Story: New Staff Starting at HMHS In A Pandemic


Lili Ali, Staff Writer

This year, five new members have joined the HMHS staff: Mr. Adam Carlin our Psychology teacher, Ms. Holly Penna our first Student Assistance Counselor/ Crisis Counselor, Ms. Darby Malvey our Media Specialist, Ms. Samantha Leighton our Special Education teacher, and Ms. Nirva Candio, our French teacher. They were very kind to respond to my interview questions via email asking them about their experiences in education and how they manage to help students and keep them engaged during these difficult times! Our first profile will be with Mr. Carlin.

Liliana Ali: “What influenced you to become a teacher? What were some challenges you faced along the

Mr. Carlin: “Teaching wasn’t my first choice for a profession. I worked for many years in the private
sector in New York City after I graduated college, but unfortunately lost my position as a result of the
financial crisis in 2010. I moved back to South Jersey and while looking for work started subbing to
supplement my income at the time. It became very clear to me I had an ability to connect with students on many levels and found the job to be the most fulfilling thing I had done in a long time and decided to
become a teacher. It is a very time-consuming profession and can be stressful at times because dealing
with teenagers can be difficult but there is also a responsibility as an educator to ensure students are the
most prepared they can be as they move on to young adulthood. I have found it difficult to connect to a
social media, screen-centric generation, more so now than ever. However, I do find when connections are made they are as fulfilling as they were when I started.”

LA: “How do you cultivate positive relationships with your students and create a sense of class
community, especially during the pandemic?”

AC: “It has been challenging cultivating positive relationships with my students so far this year. Starting
at a new school always has its challenges and it goes without saying this year in particular has been….
interesting. The hybrid model is helpful because I’m seeing at least half my students in person at a given
time. Capturing student interest is crucial for my subject material and in-person instruction is a
fundamental aspect of my teaching style. I do make an effort to take brain breaks during class and use that time to ask my students questions about music, tv, and movies. Anything I can do to get a sense of their personalities which is hard in a masked environment. I dislike the expression “new normal” but my hope is that pandemic fatigue can have a positive: our realization as a society of the importance of person to person social interaction. It is so very easy now to shut out and shut down.

“My hope is when COVID is over we embrace our humanity as the thing that should be cherished and not discarded.””

— Mr. Adam Carlin, HMHS Psychology Teacher