LRHS Teachers Create an Impact: Teacher Appreciation Week 2023
May 12, 2023
This week, the Lakeland Regional High School community celebrated its impactful educators. Students, parents, administrators, and community members took time out of their days to show and tell LRHS staff how much they contribute to the school and their lives.
The Lancer Ledger staff also sat down to discuss and reflect on some of the amazing educators we encounter on a daily basis, and here they are:
Mr. Rodolfo Rodriguez
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I have chosen my math teacher Mr. Rodolfo Rodriguez. I have Mr. Rodriguez this year for geometry, and it has been one of the most fun math classes I have ever had. Mr. R has impacted me because of his great teaching style and fun personality. Having math last block may seem like a hard task since it takes a lot of thinking; however, Mr. R is always able to make it a class I look forward to attending. He has shared hundreds of jokes with my class over the school year and makes everyone laugh at least once every period. He has impacted my peers and me because whenever we come to class upset over other grades, or down about something that happened earlier, he lifts us up. He believes in all of his students and in turn we can believe in ourselves. Mr. R is such a strong teacher because he goes in depth in every lesson. He does problem after problem of practice no matter how tedious, to help us all understand the lesson. He somehow gets all of us to do our work through the jokes and story time breaks because he gets us excited to learn. My favorite Mr. R moments have to be when he breaks out into his wacky stories at least twice a class. They come randomly whether it be him impersonating his dog, or telling us about when he pretended to rip a student’s project with a sound effect. Another fun moment was the first time he got his marker shot in the jar. He tries all year round to shoot his expo markers into a small jar across the room, which has a very low chance of actually working. During the last few months of last year, he actually made the shot and we all gave him a round of applause.
Ms. Kory Mellon
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I have chosen my ceramics teacher, Ms. Kory Mellon. Being this is my first year in high school, I do not have much experience with high school teachers, but I’m glad I got to experience the way Ms. Mellon takes charge in the classroom. When I first got to high school, I was scared of everything, including failure, but Ms. Mellon has impacted me in such a large way because she was the first teacher to show me that it was normal to fail and that no one is perfect. She has shown me to trust the process, because even if you take the required steps, life is unpredictable and you never know what may happen.
However, she is not just an art teacher, as she sets herself apart from most teachers by being able to communicate with her students. Ms. Mellon makes the classroom feel safe, laughing at everyone’s jokes and shutting down the ones that are inappropriate. When interviewed by the Lancer Ledger, Ms. Mellon said, “It was being a college recruiter that pushed me to the precipice of being a teacher. I love working with the kids and being a teacher really feels like the right thing to do for me.”
Mr. Andrew Truong
For Teacher Appreciation Week this year, I am honoring math teacher Mr. Andrew Truong. I had Mr. Truong last year as a junior for pre-calculus, and I can honestly say that not only have I communicated with him just as frequently this year (despite unfortunately not having a class with him), but I feel that we have grown even closer. In the classroom, he is an excellent teacher and always takes the time to ensure that every student understands exactly what he is teaching at all times. He is exceptional at taking adequate time and setting an appropriate pace that everyone can keep up with while also ensuring that the lesson never drags and always keeps moving. He makes class very enjoyable for everyone and always is very honest and upfront with everything, making the experience very refreshing.
On top of this, he is a very kind and genuine person who has been incredibly helpful with anything and everything that I have ever gone to him for. He truly cares about what his students are doing both academically and with extracurricular activities outside of the classroom. He has truly made a legitimate impact on my life and I’m sure that many others feel the same way. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know him over the past two years, which is exactly why I am honoring him this week. When interviewed by the Lancer Ledger, Truong explained, “I enjoy seeing students succeed both in and out of the classroom.”
Ms. Angela Carnavale
For Teacher Appreciation Week this year we want to honor a new educator here at Lakeland, Italian teacher Ms. Angela Carnavale. Being sophomores and juniors at LRHS, we have had many encounters with amazing teachers, but Ms. C has had the most impact on us. She isn’t just an impactful teacher, she is also an amazing person. She knows how to make her class fun and enjoyable, while also getting important work done. Ms. Carnavale has taught us beyond just Italian, but what it means to be good, responsible people. When asked why she had wanted to become a teacher Ms. Carnavale told us, “I was inspired to become a teacher by my high school Italian teacher, Mrs. Bariale. I loved her teaching style and the environment of her classroom. Everyone loved her and she made learning a new language so fun. Once I decided to major in Italian, I knew that I wanted to teach and hopefully have the same impact on students that my teachers had on me.”
Ms. C definitely does have that kind of impact as she is very supportive of all her students’ school work, but also their accomplishments achieved outside of school. If there is anyone who knows how to listen well and give proficient advice, it would be Ms. Carnavale.
Ms. Donna Hess
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week I have chosen to honor math teacher Ms. Donna Hess. Ms. Hess has impacted me a lot throughout the two years I’ve had her as a teacher. She has taught me a lot of math skills, and she has always been there for me during any struggles. Ms. Hess is a very strong teacher because she is great at making the lessons enjoyable rather than just lecturing. Her positive energy and common jokes makes her class very fun. She also truly cares about her students and their well being.
One of my favorite times that I had with Ms. Hess was during my freshman year and the COVID-19 pandemic when we were virtual for school. I had some trouble with a few of the concepts, and she was willing to go on Google Meets with me fairly late at night, a couple times being at 8:00 p.m. It was something that she certainly didn’t have to do for me, and the fact that she did makes her not only an amazing teacher, but an amazing person.
Ms. Keri Ecker
For this year’s teacher appreciation week, we have nominated history teacher Ms. Keri Ecker. Ms. Ecker has not only proved herself to be an outstanding teacher, but a role model for all of her students. Throughout the school year, she has done nothing but try her hardest to teach to the best of her ability. She knows every detail about all of her lessons which makes her teaching so effective for all of her students. Ms. Ecker helps us grasp concepts that can be difficult to understand. Ms. Ecker works hard to ensure her students know what they’re doing and understand the material they’re learning. Even during the hardest lessons, we are able to understand and memorize the information perfectly thanks to her teaching. Furthermore, she makes her classroom a fun and comfortable environment. It is not dreadful to attend her class and most of the time we end up having a good time while learning. She incorporates games and activities to lighten the mood. As freshmen, being in a new school with new faces can be stressful and scary. Being in her classroom has always been a comfortable setting for us that allows us to have fun while also learning new things. She is constantly checking up on her students to make sure they are comfortable in the classroom and with the information they are being given. She not only gives us extra time in class for certain assignments, but she allows us to work on them with our friends. Ms. Ecker can be characterized as a caring and supportive teacher, and always puts her students’ priorities first. When asked what attributed to her being such an impactful educator, she gave credit to all the “impactful educators and coaches” that she was fortunate enough to have in her life. Specifically, her college coach was “so supportive of everything” and was able to show her “what it’s like to be that important in someone’s life.”
Mr. Daniel Burkert
Despite the fact that I have never had Mr. Daniel Burkert as a teacher inside the classroom, in the short year I have known Mr. Burkert, he has come to be one of the most influential teachers in my life outside of the classroom. While in the halls of Lakeland he is known as English teacher Mr. B, when the school day is over, I know him best as Coach Dan. The lessons Mr. B has taught me through his coaching have come to apply to my life far beyond the track, becoming some of the mottos I carry with me everyday. His encouraging words and great wisdom have impacted me more than he could ever imagine, and have truly guided me to grow and work to achieve a more positive mindset for all aspects of life. Mr. B was one of the first people to believe in me before I believed in myself, and I do not know how I could ever thank him enough for that. In particular, I will always remember Mr. B’s empowering words the day of my cross country Groups Championships race. When my anxiety and nerves were making me doubt my abilities, Mr. B looked right at me and said, “We all believe in you, it’s about time you believe in yourself.” While this statement may have been just another coaching moment to Mr. B, to me, these words changed my life. They not only reframed my mindset in the moment and guided me to win the state group title, but they are now the words I repeat to myself before any event that I begin to become anxious over. Hearing Mr. B’s uplifting voice in my head not only inspires me, but calms me, as I know no matter what happens, Mr. B will always be on my side. His youthful, cheery personality makes him incredibly relatable, and from the minute my team and I met him over the summer, we instantly felt comfortable around him. Whether I see Mr. B in the halls during the school day or peek a glance at him while I am running 400 repeats around the track, his enthusiasm and positivity never fails to make my day, no matter what mood I may be in. Obviously I know Mr. B is a powerful educator, but when I asked him what he feels has led him to his success as a teacher, he credited “solely the people around him who have inspired him” to be the best he can be, and for his “passion” in helping his students reach their full potential. Mr. B is proof that some of the best teachers in life are those who teach beyond the curriculum in the classroom.
Ms. Amanda Costagliola
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I am nominating speech teacher/therapist Ms. Amanda Costagliola as not only my most impactful teacher, but also as a mentor-like figure and a great person to just talk to. I initially began seeing her last year during my sophomore year due to struggles with interactions and difficulty with understanding certain aspects of myself. She has beyond helped, even if I was quite uncertain and nervous at first. We met more often then, and she gave me suggestions, tools, and guidance. Eventually, I no longer needed as much assistance and began to see her less, but I nonetheless enjoy still seeing her now. Since I don’t require as much assistance anymore, we mainly begin with how school is going and if there are any current struggles and triumphs. Afterwards, we usually start talking about any random topic, whether it interests her, me, or both of us. If I express any issue, she still goes above and beyond in helping and suggesting tools and solutions, which are well appreciated. There isn’t one memory in particular that stands out because all our interactions change, and we both discuss things we enjoy with each other. Also, since my fixations change often we talk about different topics usually every meeting. Overall, she has helped me in so many ways, allowing me to discuss my interests and provide ideas for really anything, and I cannot think of any other teacher who has helped me to such an extent. When interviewed and asked what makes her believe that she has become such an impactful teacher, she explained, “Here at Lakeland, I follow a philosophy of “Be the teacher you needed in high school.” I was fortunate enough to have a lot of support to help me cope with the challenges I faced as a teen and I feel so lucky to be able to provide that to students now.”
Mr. Eric White
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I have chosen to honor English teacher Mr. Eric White as the teacher who has been the most impactful to my high school career. Mr. White has helped me a lot with appreciating literature and inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things, especially in regards to my initial dislike for poems. He’s part of the reason I feel confident in my decision to major in English and concentrate in creative writing, rather than simply majoring in creative writing in college. Mr. White’s teaching style is very effective and although some of the work he assigns is extensive, it helps prepare me for college and allows me to retain more concrete information. For example, Mr White has the class write annotations for the books he assigns and discuss them with our peers in small groups, which has allowed me to remember books more in the long-term than in the short-term. His teaching methods have allowed me to appreciate myself as a student as he focuses more on our effort in class rather than if we are capable of applying our knowledge through the means of test-taking. When asked about what he attributes to him becoming such an impactful educator, Mr. White explained that it was “seeing students get interested [in a] topic… if I find one student… in the class who started digging and understands, that compels me forward.” My favorite times with Mr. White are definitely getting the opportunities to read our independent reading book, a novel we picked out ourselves that we get time in class to read, which is something I greatly appreciate. He’s also very helpful through emails whenever I have any questions. As a whole, Mr. White has contributed to much of my success as a student and I will take his words of wisdom with me beyond Lakeland when I graduate this year.
Mr. Brian Brzozowski
For this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I have chosen Mr. Brian Brzozowski, my algebra teacher. I met Mr. B this year, also my first year of high school, and from the first days of school I knew he would turn out to be my favorite teacher. Mr. B has always been a great teacher towards all his students with great positivity and the way he decides to teach his class is always fun. Math has always been my least favorite subject coming from all the way in 6th grade to now 9th, but with Mr B. as my teacher he makes algebra fun, even if it’s hard.
Mr B. has said, “The one thing in my life that attributed me to being an impactful educator is how passionate I am about my students’ success. Several students, including their parents, have seen first hand that I am not afraid to communicate my honest opinion on what is best academically for them.” Mr B. has not only been a huge influence for me this year but also a huge influence to other students in these past years.