Congrats On Completing Your First Year!


Whether it is needing a helping hand, or curiosity about a subject, we know that there will always be a teacher to answer our questions and assist us. FDR was very lucky this year to have an outstanding group of talented new teachers. The New Dealer was able to connect with the different departments at our school, and talk to some of our new Cougars, about their greatest challenges and favorite moments this year!

Math Department: Ms. Catalano 

One of Ms. Catalano’s biggest obstacles, as a first-year teacher, was understanding the rigorous work and time required to teach five classes a day. Her student teaching consisted of learning to manage a class, and the shift in scheduling was a great challenge she was proud to overcome. Ms. Catalano’s favorite memory was her interview process to get her teaching position at FDR. That thrill of having a group interview was very exciting and memorable for her! Ms. Catalano’s love for the Math Department is shown through her dedication and work ethic. They are lucky to have such a great asset to their team!

Science Department: Ms. Khalil

Ms. Khalil believes one of her biggest obstacles in the beginning of the year was time management. The overall workload of lesson planning, and time aside from school, was a long process to adjust to. Ms. Khalil feels she has accomplished so much within a year! She has learned that not everything has to be perfect. Helping her ENL students break the language barrier and allowing them to be more comfortable with the language they speak, brought Ms. Khalil a lot of joy this year. One memory she will hold close to her is teaching her Living Environment class. She can now say various words in Arabic, such as offspring being “bobo.” The term bobo has a different meaning in most languages and is not associated with offspring. The repetition of students pronouncing it, became a fun class joke. Her dedication to teaching is greatly appreciated and the Science Department wouldn’t be the same without her!

ISS Department: Ms. Smith

Ms. Smith gained experience through her five years of being a paraprofessional, and she is now a first-year teacher! Having to transition between these roles was a definite challenge. Working with her co-workers and appreciating the environment around her, Ms. Smith sees the connection with her peers as an accomplishment and a great memory! Getting to know each and everyone around her, inspired her and brought her great joy this year. We welcome her to the team!

ENL Department: Ms. LaBarca 

Assimilating to the school environment and co-teaching were challenges Ms. Labarca worked hard to overcome. Always attending to the students’ needs and teaching them, while effectively communicating, is something she identifies as one of her biggest accomplishments. Ms. LaBarca loved the opportunity of being exposed to the multicultural events and open houses at FDR. Ms. Labarca enjoyed meeting all the families and welcoming them into our community. With the help of her mentor, Mr. Wolkoff and all the teachers, she felt incredibly welcomed and supported. The Cougar community helped her tremendously, and she is very grateful!

ELA: Ms. Alvarez

Ms. Alvarez was confronted with many challenges that any new teacher would have to go through. However, none were strong enough to take her down! Her toughest obstacle this year was balancing doing her Master’s degree, alongside creating lesson plans. She toughed it out, pulled through, and provided her students with an amazing year! Her favorite memory from her first year here at FDR was when she did a KAHOOT with her class for the first time. It really helped with connecting her with her students. 

Physical Education: Ms. Acquafredda 

Ms. Acquafredda loves teaching Physical Education to our lovely student body! Her biggest obstacle this year was her smaller physical stature. She felt as if students mistook her as a fellow classmate in the beginning of the year. She believes there was a gap between the respect she got, and deserved, early on. However, she quickly found a way to handle the students and get the respect she deserves! Her favorite memory was coaching Softball this year. As a first-year teacher, she was incredibly honored to take over leading the Softball team. She enjoyed the bond they made over the year. Having the ability to be serious, and playful, with her students was very rewarding!

Social Studies: Ms. Jefferson

Ms. Jefferson has been a wonderful addition to our already talent group of teachers here at FDR! One major obstacle she faced was her commute to FDR. She does not live in Brooklyn, so her commute was long and grueling! Therefore, she had long nights creating lesson plans. A second challenge she faced was getting her class excited and energetic, because apparently students don’t like reading historical documents. Ms. Jefferson is keen on being very active with her class! She is always at the door before class welcoming students and getting them enthusiastic to learn.  As a first-year teacher, students early on, mistook her as a fellow classmate. This had made her work twice as hard for the respect she deserves. Ms. Jefferson’s favorite memory was reading the poem, Let America Be America Again, by Langston Hughes with Ms. Darr Rodriguez. It gave her a great steppingstone to truly connect with her students and peers. 

Art- Ms. Roccanova:

Ms. Roccanova’s biggest obstacle, shared with many other first-year teachers, was balancing work and graduate school. She got the hang of it, like all the other amazing teachers we have at our school, by giving herself a strict but balanced routine! Her favorite memory this year was watching her students grow and achieve their personal goals. She was really impressed with how they matured as students. She felt it was rewarding to see her students thrive academically! 

The New Dealer was honored to hear from just a few of our new Cougars! Below is a list of all our first-year Cougar educators!

Welcome to our community! It only gets better from here!

Haobitai, H. English

Binni, A. Social Studies

Cekani, J. ENL

Eisenberg, G. Science

Bacchus, S. ISS

Salvador, G. English

Rivera, D. ISS

Djombalic, V. Phys. Ed.

Bouyea, L. ISS

Li, H. World Language

White, W. ISS

Slosh, J. ISS

Nieves, R. ENL