Note: The Phillipian will cover other new faculty members in next week’s paper.
Denise Alfonso, Instructor in Chemistry
Who is your favorite famous chemist and why?
My favorite chemist is Dorothy Hodgkin. She is a crystallographer who worked with some other chemist – I think it was Alan Turing – to solve the crystal structure of vitamin B12. On top of that, she also discovered that you could, in fact, have a bond between a metal and a carbon, which was one of the biggest discoveries of the mid-20th century.
What are your roles on campus?
I am a complement House Counselor in Morton House. There are seven girls in the dorm, and I think they’re nice to hang out with. I also coach Instructional Squash with Tom Hodgson.
Laila Ballout, Instructor in History
What is your favorite historical figure?
From an interesting perspective there is a guy, called Walid Jumblatt, and he was a warlord in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. He he is still a politician. I think he looks like a cartoon – he’s got a lot of crazy hairs that fly around. He is definitely someone who survives against all odds. So he is a contemporary historical figure, but a very interesting character in politics and in Lebanese history.
What do you like most about the Andover campus?
It is gorgeous, that is for sure. It is also really calm, even when there are a lot of students. It seems like there is a sort of studious and peaceful atmosphere.
Anny Candelario, Instructor in Math
What made you choose Andover?
My husband got a Spanish position here first, and there were no math openings, which bummed me out. I actually started looking at Lawrence High but then this July, a math position opened up. I thought it would be an amazing place to work at because my husband works here, and I had already heard about the caliber of the students here, as well as the serious academic focus. At the same time, I’d be able to work with people who I could learn so much from, so I thought that was exciting.
What’s your favorite part of teaching math?
My favorite part about teaching math (210 and 320) is searching for that “aha” moment in students. They’re able to make a connection with the content, the approach and the result. It doesn’t even have anything to do with academic ability persay, but rather, persistence and grit and not giving up. As a math teacher, I have the pleasure of teaching a subject that many inherently believe to be very difficult. I like to push back on that perception and facilitate a lesson where the students feel confident, not necessarily about getting all the answers, but also about making mistakes.
Carol Artacho, Instructor in Physics
What are your favorite physicists in history?
The early astronomers from the 18th and 19th century, as well as women who actually decided to scientifically start cataloging the sky and their observations. So I like the idea of women defying the demand of society, and I find that really inspiring. It really speaks to me at a personal level.
Why did you want to become a teacher at Andover?
When I came to visit, I was really taken by how driven and how thoughtful the students were. I remember watching this astronomy class where the teacher wasn’t actually there that day because she was ill. So the students actually took over and talked about all of their subjects and what they had been doing. I was really taken by their enthusiasm and their learning. I very much enjoyed that and thought I would really like to be part of it.
Leon Calleja, Instructor in English
What do you like most about the English language?
I think it’s quirky and very rich. One has the ability to make different intonations. I think I love its rhythms. English is just a very complicated languag: it’s just something I am attracted to from a very philosophical standpoint, but also an aesthetic standpoint.
What was experience like as an English student?
Back in high school, I wasn’t the strongest English student at all. I remember the first time I tried to get into an advanced English class, I wasn’t actually allowed to, but my mom pushed the administration and I got in. I ended up going – not the greatest in the class, but I did much better than they would have expected. That actually led to a recommendation from the teacher, which probably got me into the college that I ended up attending.
Edwin Escobar, Instructor in Spanish
What is the hardest part of teaching Spanish?
Finding a starting point with a class. You have to get a feel from where a lot of students come from with different backgrounds of Spanish. Some have taken three years, some have taken eight years. It’s a matter of finding a good starting point so that nobody’s left behind.
Do you have a favorite unit to teach?
I’ve always liked the beginning [Spanish 100] courses and teaching about hobbies. You get to really learn a lot about the students and what they like doing. When you move into Spanish 200 classes, you focus a little bit more about grammar and all that stuff. I think learning about the student is definitely what I enjoy most about teaching Spanish.