New Staff, New Year

Jessica Amabile , Co-Editor in Chief

Image courtesy of: Stock Photos

Recently, the new staff members at West were asked a few questions about their first weeks at a new school. Ten people were added to the school’s faculty. These are their responses.

Ms. Lee wrote that she loves West so far and that “I feel really grateful to be here.” However, the campus is confusing and difficult to get used to. She is an English teacher for the senior class, and this is her seventh year in education.  She says that the students are the best part of West; “They are enthusiastic, kind, and energetic. I hope that this energy persists throughout the year!” Her favorite class in high school was English, especially AP Lit because “it exposed me to critical thinking in literature for the first time. I learned that year that reading is a powerful tool to understand the world and myself.” She’s looking forward to watching the seniors graduate, to “celebrate the accomplishments of hard-working students.” Ms. Lee would also like student recommendations to local restaurants.

Ms. Connolly describes her first days at West as “wonderful” and mentioned that she appreciates how kind everyone is as she “navigate[s] a new school district.”  She mentioned that she is getting used to the larger school and “how job-specific tasks are done here versus [her] old school”. Ms. Connolly, former Athletics Secretary at Winslow High School, is the new Athletics Secretary at West. Her favorite parts of West are “how kind everyone has been” and the organization. Her favorite class in high school was English. She’s excited to get to know everyone better, and says her “door is always open to assist with anything athletics-related! If I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll always find out for you and get back to you quickly.”

This is Mr. DeFuria’s twelfth-year teaching. He taught for three years in Massachusetts, then eight years at Cherry Hill East. He wrote that the first weeks at West have been “not much different than my first couple of weeks at East.” It has been a bit difficult to get used to the bell, as it doesn’t sound like the one he’s used to. However, he says that knowing the schedule and class times helps. His favorite class in high school was Marching Band. Mr. DeFuria is “excited to get to know people over here at West.”

Mr. Conte described the first weeks at West as “overwhelming but great”. He says that many people have offered support. He mentioned that the layout of the school and different levels can be confusing, but joked, “to grow accustomed to it, I went the wrong way a bunch.” Mr. Conte is a first-year teacher, and is teaching English and Special Education. His favorite high school classes, of course, were English and Creative Writing. His favorite part of West is the “emphasis on reading and writing and creativity in the English department.” Mr. Conte looks forward to seeing the talents students have, such as participation in sports games and other extracurriculars. He would like everyone to know “I have a one-month-old baby at home so if you see me looking tired, that’s because I am.”

Ms. Valley finds the school larger than expected, but “everyone is friendly and helpful.” The biggest adjustment she’s had is setting her alarm for 5:30 am. She is a Student Advocate, and has had twenty years of experience as a social worker/counselor for high school students and teenagers. Ms. Valley is “excited to work with as many students as possible” and would like students to know that her office is a safe place. Her favorite part of West so far is the students. Her favorite class in high school was acting class. She’d like everyone to know that she loves “pizza, sushi, traveling, Netflix, yoga and the outdoors.”








Images courtesy of Mr. Myers. This was a group activity he held on the first day of school, where students had to find as many numbers between 3 and 100 in only 3 minutes. He wrote, “each student had to find a number, and group members could help each other but each member had to circle the number on the page” and in the process, discovered patterns as well as learned to cooperate with each other.


Mr. Myers says the first few weeks have been “crazy, busy” and tiring. However, he’s enjoyed meeting his students and watching them engage in team collaboration and growth mindset activities (as shown in the pictures above). The rotating bell schedule and the layout of West are the most challenging parts of West so far, which he stated by writing, “my classroom is upper F-wing and I can walk a few feet to be at the intersection of lower D wing, upper F wing, and middle E wing.” Mr. Myers is currently teaching Geometry and Algebra 2, but has taught a variety of subjects: Algebra 1, AP Macroeconomics, Financial Literacy, U.S. Government, U.S. History, and seventh-grade math. He has also taught in multiple different states: Georgia, Iowa, and New Jersey. His favorite parts of West so far are the culture and support–from the administration, the math team, the students, and the rest of the faculty. His favorite subjects in high school were AP U.S. Government and Geometry, which led him to study at Iowa State University for an undergraduate degree in architecture. Mr. Myers is excited to “build new relationships with students,” attend West extracurricular activities, and use the Modern Classroom Project in his classes. He would like everyone to know that while teaching is his second career, “​teaching is truly a work of (he)art and my passion!” His other passions include, “college sporting events (Go Iowa State Cyclones!), traveling (summer vacation to Seattle and Panama & Colombia), cooking, and definitely catching up on sleep.” He also mentioned, “I have an open-door policy so stop by room F38 anytime throughout the year to say hi or seek my support.”

Ms. Lomon says that West has been how she had hoped, which is “warm and welcoming”. She also wrote, “I truly feel like I have been here forever!” Her biggest challenge has been getting used to the rotating bell schedule and the “sheer size” of the school, but walking around and helping students helps her learn it. She is an Assistant Principal “for 9-12 Student Success”, as well as supervisor of the English, ELL, and Guidance departments. She has also been a District Supervisor of Instruction for 7.5 years. Her experience includes being an Assistant Principal in Franklinville, as well as a high school math teacher for 9 years. Ms. Lomon says her favorite part of West so far is the people because the students and staff at West are exceptional and I am so happy to be part of this wonderful family.” Her favorite class in high school was math. She is excited about “the opportunity to work with the students of Cherry Hill HS West and make a difference. I want each and every student at West to feel like they are a part of this family and belong [and] be excited to come to school each and every day and be happy to be here.” Ms. Lomon would like everyone to know that she has a husband, 2 children, and a cockapoo. She also wrote, “come see me in B1! I am here to support you.”

Ms. Bassani says she  “had a great first week” and that many people introduced her to the West community. For her, the most difficult aspect of the first few weeks has been the layout of the building.  This is her third year teaching biology, but her first at West. This year she’s excited to attend the school’s extracurricular events. Ms. Bassani’s favorite part of West so far is the energy, which she says is “so inspiring, and fuels me to be the best teacher I can!” When she was in high school, her favorite subjects were biology, of course, and interior design. She closed the interview by writing, “I am so excited to be here and I am looking forward to a wonderful year!”


Ms. Dollarton (or Ms. Nic) graduated from Cherry Hill High School East in 1989 and has been teaching there for 25 years.  Her first few weeks have been “way better than expected!!!” She says she has been welcomed into the school with a level of empathy and understanding in her transition to a new school. The building layout is still a challenge for her, partially because she says “I just haven’t had the time to wander.” To grow accustomed to her new school and room, she’s decorated her room to represent her, and describes it as “fresh, positive and super inviting to my students and therefore I too enjoy coming to my classroom.” Ms. Nic has taught math for 25 years, in almost every subject (with the exception of Geometry, which she dislikes), and has a passion for Calculus and Algebra. Unsurprisingly, her favorite subject in high school was math. Her favorite part of West so far is the West Way. This year, she’s excited to “become an integral part of the West community,” like she was at East. Ms. Nic would like everyone to know “I like to lead with kindness and positivity so if you are feeling down and need a pick-me-up, just swing by F-26 during lunch & learn and I will do my best to share some of it!!!!!”

Ms. Klein has been teaching High School for 15 years. She wrote, “I love how kind and helpful the students and staff are, as well as the fact that students are eager to learn.” Ms. Klein says she’s very excited to be teaching at West and to “incorporate the myriad of technology offerings into [her] classes this year as [she] settle[s] into teaching at West.” Additionally, she looks forward to seeing students at activities and sporting events. She says she is “thrilled” to be here.