The Newest Biology and Special Ed Teacher at Hills

By Amber Leung

Brooke Schwartzman the period before her class.  Photo by Amber Leung.

Brooke Schwartzman the period before her class. Photo by Amber Leung.

Having a passion for both biology and special education, Brooke Schwartzman has taken on a dual position this year at Hills. Working with Dr. Whitfield to teach environmental science and having her own class as well, all while helping special ed students, Schwartzman says she has the best of both worlds.

Ms. Schwartzman graduated from Montclair State with an undergraduate degree in biology. She then went on to receive her Master’s in teaching, and teaching students with disabilities. Although the first few weeks as a new teacher can be overwhelming, Schwartzman was welcomed to Hills with open arms and has even begun to immerse herself in Hills’ pride, attending the first football game of the season.

Schwartzman said, “On my first day, Mr. DeMarrais walked in and gave me a [Hills’ pride] sweatshirt. He said, ‘It’s my daughter’s but it should be alright,’ and it was then I felt as though I was part of the family even without meeting everyone.”

Through biology, she hopes to interest her students with the concepts of living organisms, including ourselves, and how we interact with the environment around us. As the science world becomes more diverse in the present day and the future, Schwartzman wants to influence both her female and male students with the woman’s “point of view” in science. There are still significantly less females in STEM occupations, and through her class, she wishes to broaden the idea to her students with articles and women scientists.

Hands-on, engaging, and project orientated, Schwartzman does not like a quiet classroom; she wants her students to be constantly asking questions, moving around, and collaborating with their classmates. More importantly, she hopes to connect with her students in a personal way, making them see her not only as a teacher but as an adult that teaches as a career with other interests outside of school. She wants to be “real” to her students and talking about topics that interest them, while at the same time telling them about her hobbies, such as a working out and traveling the world.

Schwartzman said, “In such a technology based world nowadays, I would love to be my students’ role models. I think the way to do this is to gain their trust and respect, and to build relationships with them as well.”

Even when working with special education students, she brings her philosophy to the classroom all the same. Treating all her students with equal adoration, Schwartzman is patient and uses strategies to help them understand in their own terms. Her calming presence enabling her students to better communicate and possess a desire to learn.

Involved in both biology and special education, Schwartzman aspires to spread her passion for teaching to all her students in the following years at Hills, while pursuing her dream of teaching in both fields.